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OverMaster's Little Crummy Corner of Sub-Par Writing

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by OverMaster, Aug 27, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Five, Part Four
    OverMaster

    OverMaster L

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    "Illya-san?" Sakura said, entering the workshop her sister had lent the diminutive European. "Sorry to intrude, but Akuta-san is asking for you. She wants to know why you aren't working on the next jump yet."

    "Again? What a noisy woman," Illya complained, wielding a set of eyeglasses, while wearing protective goggles and gloves, plus a lab coat two sizes too long and big for her. "Tell her when we can't do anything until Medusa and the others are done with their first lesson."

    Sakura looked over her shoulder. "Are these for Medusa-san?"

    "Yes. If she's going to be interacting with the modern world for the foreseeable future, she'll need a way to blend in as seamlessly as possible for a skyscraper with ankle-lenght hair in Japan. Crafting anti-magic is difficult, especially if it has to neuter divine magic from the Age of Gods, but if anyone can do it that's me. Is the Thousand Master's son here already?"

    Sakura nodded dutifully. "Yes, I just led Sensei in. Do you want to meet him?"

    Illya sneered loudly. "Me? Why would I want to meet the brat of an overrated wild mage with no pedigree? Nagi Springfield was just a rogue who lucked out, that's all!"

    "Don't be so loud, please!" Sakura gasped. "We had to put the classroom in the spare room next door!"

    "So what?" Illya went on undaunted. "If he happens to overhear that's fine with me, I don't even plan to ever meet him face to face, so why to bother...!"




    "Something wrong, Professor?" the vanilla Artoria asked, sitting at the head of the class, in the best chair Rin had found for her.

    The young, short boy with red hair and tiny bifocals in the dark green suit and shiny black shoes paused, eyebrow twitching for a moment, before plastering a large tense smile on. "No, not at all. I was just... trying to remember if I'd forgotten something. Turns out it didn't. Ahem," he cleared his throat politely. "Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Negi Springfield, and as a favor to Tohsaka-san, I will be teaching you Japanese over the next few days."

    "You're much smaller than I expected," Euryale shared.

    "Well, I'm still only ten after all," he replied in perfect Greek, and she and her twin grew mildly interested. "Rest assured that despite that I'm still officially qualified for this job, but why don't we start by introducing ourselves? How about you, Miss...?"

    "Call me Wart. Everyone does," Artoria said.

    Negi took a moment to consider this answer. "... Wart?"

    Artoria nodded.

    Negi moved on. "Okay. Wart it will be, then. As your name, young man, that would be..." he carefully addressed Mordred, who sat right by her father's side, face and forearms completely covered on heavy bandages that only showed her bright green eyes. "Call me... Moe." Clenching of teeth. "I was in an accident. Don't ask."

    "Um, I wouldn't dream of it," Negi said. He eyed Medusa and her blindfold somewhat nervously.

    "Yeah, she was in the same accident with me," Mordred grumbled.

    "Yet I ssume you don't speak the same language," Negi said, seeing the resemblance between Medusa and the twins.

    "Ours is... a friendship that trascends language borders," Mordred said lamely and feeling disgust of herself. "Her name's Meredith."

    Medusa blinked at the recognition of this single last word, then began looking around. Or not looking, as it may be the case. "Meredith? Where?"

    Negi sweatdropped. "R-Right, Meredith! Nice to meet you, Meredith." At these words in Greek, Medusa straightened on her seat, her sisters staring at her. "Okay, now, who else could..."

    Musashi grinned, waving a hand up. "I'm Jessie, and this is James!" she laughed, slapping Kojiro's shoulder. "We're from America!"

    "But you speak perfect Japanese," Negi faintly said.

    "We do, but we still don't have anything better to do, so we came over to support our comrades," Kojiro stated, and if he was being ironic, which he likely was, his rich, smooth tone did not betray it.

    "Excuse me for telling you this, but you don't look very American," Negi insisted.

    "Of course we are!" Musashi said. "Hear, hear this awesome English, Sensei! Oh yes! Sexy! My name is Jessie!" she shouted in hammy, broken and overall despicable Engrish learned from late night television.

    "..." Negi said while Galahad facepalmed, wearing completely useless glasses just to bother at all with a disguise.

    Lancelot rasped and patted her shoulder. "Professor, this is Mash Kyrielight, and I'm her father, Brash Kyrielight. Seduce her and you will die. I have listened to Miss Rin's warnings."

    "Brash?!" Mordred said, head snapping back at him.

    Lancelot nodded stoically. "Short for Brashford."

    "Ah, yes, on that subject," Gawain said. "I'm Sean Connery. This is my sister, Jean Connery," he added, placing a hand on Gareth's shoulder. Next he pointed at Agravain. "And this is our brother, Bean Connery."

    "... I see..." Negi said, then looked, without any hopes left, at Stheno, Euryale and Perseus.

    "I'm Yuuka, this is my sister Yumika, and this boy here is Sanji," Stheno calmly answered the unspoken question.

    Negi finally realized Rin-san was really, really bad at coming up with false names.

    He fought to keep the smile on and asked his last would be student. "Sorry for leaving you to close the roll call, Ma'am. If you could please state your name...?"

    "Um, I think I'm Bedi!"

    "... you think?!"

    "She was in the same accident as us, okay?!" Mordred muttered, taking a fist to her own head several times, mimicking the motion of repeated fierce blows.
     
  2. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Five, Part Five
    OverMaster

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    "Oh, there you are, um, Kiritsugu-san," Shirou came to a halt before his father's room, looking in and seeing this man who looked and sounded so much like him, sitting by the old bed and looking through several of Father's files. "I'm sorry to tell you that you won't find anything there. Dad burned all of the notes he wrote before the War, that's just everyday junk, I guess..."

    "There are some things to be learned if you know how to read between the lines," the older man huffed, putting his cigarette off. "For the record, he probably did the right thing after all. We both had the same idea, of leaving those stupid ideals of Justice behind, but in hindsight, I should've quit the killing game as well."

    "They... They weren't stupid!" Shirou protested, fully walking in. "It's true that he stopped doing... that, but it's just because he couldn't keep doing it anymore! If you don't like helping people, why were you helping to risk your life to save Irisviel-san anyway?!"

    "Isn't it obvious? For the job," Kiritsugu replied, jaded and taciturn. "Once I looked at every evil in the world... the real ones, those coming from men rather than those alien forces lurking within that Grail... I realized all those pretending to dispense justice were a sham, and all those pretending they deserved justice were a farce as well."

    Shirou gasped. "And... that means you only worry about yourself now?!"

    "The Einzberns paid, I did my duty," the man said, very seriously. "Had I only cared about myself, I'd have just taken the money and ran away once I saw how critical the situation was. Even the Einzberns couldn't get me if I tried my best. But no, it's never been only about the money, or myself. That's part of it, but not quite the whole."

    "I don't understand," Shirou confessed.

    "You were raised not to," Kiritsugu said, flipping through an album of his photos with this other man. "I'm a killer, that's all I was ever taught to be, so that's the only thing I can be. Whether I devoted my talents to the cause of a non existent justice or mere profit was irrelevant, so I chose simply sticking to doing it for the sake of being what I was. It's stupid and pointless in its own way, I realize. But then so are all paths in life."

    "That's the most cynical thing I've ever heard," Shirou said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "Then, that stuff you just said about retiring being the best thing you or him could do..."

    "It's something I wouldn't know how to do," the killer mused, "but I suppose that woman, and later you, taught him how to, in your own ways. Good for him, looks like he lived his last few years in peace."

    "He did. I hope so, at least," Shirou said quietly. "Sometimes, it was hard to say."

    "How about you?" Kiritsugu asked, closing the book. "What were you raised for?"

    "Dad didn't really raise me to be anything, one way or the other. He let me choose my own fate. And I chose to keep going from where he left."

    "Then you've chosen a doomed path," Kiritsugu told him, "but you still should be good at it. I'm going to teach you a few things. Consider it my mercenary duty, to repay you after you pulled me from that hell."

    "But... I'm not able with magic, all I can do is Reinforcing things, even Dad couldn't-"

    "I'm not going to teach you that," Kiritsugu said, swiftly pushing two fingers against his throat. "I'll teach you how to survive without magic. Do you know why I got to be the Magus Killer Kiritsugu? Because magic isn't all powerful, boy. It can't defend you against everything, no matter how good it is. That Tohsaka girl? I could kill her without using any of mine, easy. That's not a knock against her. I'm sure I could do the same to every mage in this city short of Konoe Konoemon, if he's anything like the one I knew."

    Shirou blinked as he finally pulled the fingers back. "Are you going to teach me how to kill? I won't do that."

    "I'll let you choose, just like your father did," Kiritsugu pulled another cigarette out, then lit it up. "You can be smart and use these gifts to their fullest, or you can keep on being an idiotic idealistic and half-use them until you are dead. But it won't be because I failed as a teacher, but you failed as a student. Even as a failure, you will know how, which is different of actually being willing to pull it off."

    Shirou nodded slowly. "I think I get it now... The same tools you can use to kill, can also be used to protect, right?"

    Kiritsugu shrugged. "That's one way to look at it."

    Shirou smiled. "Thank you. Don't mind if I take you on that offer. Teach me like you taught Maiya-san!"

    The mature man chuckled. "Well, I won't teach you everything I taught her. I hope you won't mind that either!"

    "You mean... Oh. Oh, geez, dammit," Shirou blushed and coughed into a fist. "So you, um, you two are... W-Where is she right now, anyway? I thought-"

    "I sent her out in an errand," Kiritsugu said. "If this Academy City is anything like that we know, she'll make it there in no time flat to look into this business for me."

    Shirou blinked again, confused. "Exactly where did you send her to?"
     
  3. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Five, Part Six
    OverMaster

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    Once you left the Mahora campus long behind and entered the Ohtori prefecture, the nature itself seemed to change, along the architecture, which grew more delicate and even ethereal, even more European and even more classic. The vegetation was less vibrant, trees less sturdy, more svelte and elegant, with a dominance of imported species from the West. And of course, there were roses everywhere, perfuming the surroundings in a way even the hardened combatant making her way down the street could not help finding pleasant and relaxing.

    Which was a bad thing, since she had been taught relaxing and lowering one's guard would never lead to anything but disaster and defeat. Fortunately, that ominously sweet sensation vanished as soon as she entered that final avenue before reaching her destination and, after passing before several abandoned manors, found herself standing in front of what charitably could be called some summer house the Addams Family had not used for some years.

    Maiya looked again at the note Kiritsugu had handed her before knocking on the large, rusty doors of the old residence. The crows nestling all around the dilapidated house had been restless since she had appeared turned around the corner, as if afraid, and they grew even more restless at this sound; the woman could hear them rustling together uneasily in the trees of the wide garden surrounded by tall walls. She tried to ignore the strange sensation of subtle dread, which really did not suit a trained professional such as her, while someone pulled the front gate open from the inside.

    A serene, frowning face, more cute than beautiful, peeked out with extreme care, large blue eyes regarding Maiya warily behind glasses of thick brown rim. "Yes, how may I help you?" this brown haired young lady, not any older than Shirou, said while still holding onto the barely open gate.

    "Good afternoon," the visitor bowed her head. "My name is Maiya Hisau, and if possible, I would like to speak with Sajyou Hiroki, please?"

    "I'm afraid that won't be possible," the girl said, her voice emotionless and yet downright miserable. "Father has been dead for ten years now."

    "Oh... Oh, I see. I'm so sorry," Maiya offered, realizing they should have consulted this Tohsaka Rin on this matter before coming here. "If you could let me talk with your mother, then..."

    "Mother, Father, and my older sister are all dead," the girl with shoulder lenght smooth hair answered. "I'm sorry you had to come here over nothing."

    "Do you live on your own here?" Maiya asked gently, since she was used to affecting the manners if not the sentiment. "Is that even legal?"

    "Arrangements have been made. If you need to discuss any matters related to my father's debts you should visit Father Phahn. He looks after our finances now."

    A curious parallel, Maiya observed inwardly. Much like Tohsaka Rin, this was an orphan from the Fourth War left under the care of a priest. It made her wonder. "I'm not here because of anything related to money, really. Could you please let me in? I promise I won't take long."

    The girl stared at her for several moments before pulling the door wider, stepping aside. "Welcome," she said in not terribly welcoming tone as the older female walked in. "My name's Ayaka," she added, pushing the heavy door back closed with visible effort. The crows cried and flapped their wings from the branches. Still expresionless, Sajyou Ayaka dusted her hands off on her long skirt and led Maiya into the decrepit, slightly smelly manor. "What can I do for Maiya-san, then?"

    "Yes, how should I put this," began Maiya, who was better with knives and guns than with words, and thus still wondered why Kiritsugu hadn't come himself. "Rather than asking about your father's economy, I'm interested on his research."

    "Oh, you are a magus, then."

    "No, I work for one," Maiya said, as Ayaka gestured at a large couch for her to sit on, facing hers. "You shouldn't have said that so quickly, you know," she reminded the student while taking the offered seat. "Never reveal your connections until you are sure your visitor has them as well."

    "You had to be in the knowledge, for the world at large Father was only a musician, not any manner of researcher. Even so, I'd have thought you'd be more interested on Oneesama's research."

    "Your sister surpassed your father?"

    "Quite early on," the girl confirmed stoically. "That is the real reason why you are here, aren't you? We're left only one week for the anniversary. Did Clock Tower send you?"

    "No. What is your sister's connection to the Fuyuki fires?"

    Ayaka sighed. "I'm a terrible host. I should go for some tea."

    She took a long time, doubting and shivering and stalling, as Maiya verified by stealthily standing by the kitchen's door, spying on her. She kept on whispering something to herself, with the fear of a traumatized child, before finally gathering enough courage to get back to the living room, where she found Maiya sitting as if nothing had ever happened.

    "Oneesama disappeared the night before the first Heaven's Feel battle was recorded officially," Ayaka said, nerves controlled, while pouring her tea. "Father went to look after her. They... never returned. I was told they died in the fires, even though they never turned their bodies for burial. Or what might have been left of them."

    "My condolences," Maiya said. She knew she was being told only part of the tale, but she knew better than to reel a fish far too early.

    Ayaka sipped from her own tea, eyes sadly lost in remembrance. "Oneesama was a true genius, you know. Not only a genius of the theory, even I could write a treaty and pass it off as something good. Maybe. She had the actual talent to make her goals and dreams become reality. That... That is why I admired her so much."

    Maiya nodded. "I can relate. I loved my sister so much, too." Which was an absolute lie, starting with the existence of such a sister, but part of the strategy in fishing is offering a delectable bait.

    "No. It's not that I loved her. I respected her, certainly. And I admired her more than I ever have admired anyone else. I'd have died for her, gladly. B-But... I don't think I ever loved her. Then again, as I understand, those are frequent customs in the families of magi."

    "You don't interact much with other magi, do you?"

    "I try not to, Ma'am."

    "So you don't know the other local heiress, then? Tohsaka Rin?"

    "No, Ma'am. I know who is she, but I don't think she's even heard of me. She studies in Mahora now, I seem to remember? Father Phahn must've mentioned it once... A-Anyway, our family never could compare to the Tohsakas..."

    Okay, now it was time to pull back a little, to force the fish closer. "She's currently in possession of something my superior tells me might have been crafted by your sister."

    "That's possible," Ayaka admitted. "After her passing, we had to sell many of our belongings. Oneesama liked to experiment with household items, to transform them in ways one would never think probable. She loved challenging herself, and yet nothing was a challenge for her. Sometimes I thought she could do anything..." A sigh. "And in a way, she did, I guess. We tried to make sure no object of what we sold was enchanted, but, who knows? Sometimes, her inventions would only work when she wished for it. But, since we've heard nothing on them ever since, I thought..."

    "What, exactly, did these altered contraptions do, Ayaka-san?" Maiya softly prepared the landing.

    "There were so many things. A music box could show you a full view of the Solar System, like a hologram. Sometimes a piece of furniture would run around and bark like a dog, then fall silent forever. There were all those strange toys she'd keep in a box under her bed, and she'd never let me touch them, but they grew so big, and... Why, she even tried to build time machines!" for the first time ever she almost seemed about to laugh, as if moved by the whimsy of the idea.

    Maiya tensed despite herself. "Time machines?!"

    Ayaka nodded. "I think... she even mentioned working on two, actually. One was the prototype, the other the backup, or something like that. I never saw either working, and I think she destroyed the first one... blast, but if I can't even remember what it looked like, I was so small... But, the other's still in the attic, I think!" she finally smiled, and that small sad smile was a truly beatiful thing to behold. "Do you want to see?"

    It took the stunned Maiya a moment or two before being capable of nodding.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2020
  4. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Five, Omake
    OverMaster

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    The chapter's not over yet, but I finished an...

    ---

    Omake!

    "Oh, welcome back," Hasegawa Chisame looked up from her computer and greeted the boy as he returned home, taking his dress jacket off and hanging it by their door. "How did that go?"

    Negi sighed. "There are too many of them to teach properly from zero, none of them knew anything about Japanese to begin with, there's a couple of twins who keep sabotaging the lessons much worse than Fuuka and Fumika, their sister can't see anything of what I write on the board, and overall only two of them have enough raw talent and drive to learn enough of the language before the date Tohsaka-san expects results for. One of them being the one who can't see. Okay, more like three, actually, but Moe-san will need to ease down on her frustration first, it actually interferes with her concentration and hampers her progress. Plus, there are two hecklers who do know Japanese but just sit around getting in the way."

    "Yeah, but is it worse than teaching the Baka Rangers?"

    "Goodness, no!" Negi had to admit, throwing his hands up. "Don't ever tell them, but Makie-san and Asuna alone give me more problems than the whole lot of them put together...!"
     
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  5. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Five, Part Seven
    OverMaster

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    Ayaka pulled the old, smelly carpet covering the large mysterious object in its attic, and Maiya blinked at the reveal.

    "A threadmill?"

    Ayaka nodded. "At the time, Oneesama was in a fitness phase. You have to understand, she sometimes went through phases to reinvent herself, that was part of her genius. She'd also read about a threadmill to run across time in some American manga, and she was inspired..."

    "Have you ever tried it?" Maiya asked.

    "M-Me?! Perish the thought! I never could make any of her inventions work properly, I once blew half the house tinkering with one... Besides, I'm not a fit person! I'm lazy, and unmotivated, such a slob and a mess, I'm uncoordinated and clumsy, everyone always tell me that I-"

    Rather than listening to this self deprecating rant, which she imagined had to be a rather frequent occurrence from this girl, Maiya pulled her cellphone out. "Sir? It's me. I have found something you might find valuable."

    "Is that your superior?" Ayaka blinked. "What am I saying, of course he is, I'm so stupid."

    "No, you were right, they're both dead. Only the younger daughter remains, she let me in. What is it? A threadmill. Yes, I suppose it makes marginally more sense than a toaster..."

    "A toaster?" Ayaka echoed.

    "A threadmill?" Shirou was echoing across the city at the same time, sitting uncomfortably close to Kiritsugu despite all of the man's attempts to just shoo him away.

    "No, of course we won't touch it. I'll wait for your arrival. Yes. Over," Maiya finished the call and gave the girl a bland glare. "State your price."

    "You... You want to buy it? B-B-But I don't think it works, and... I'm confused, I've never sold a time machine before, mind if I call Father Phahn and consult him on it? If it works, you'll most likely be scamming me, and if it doesn't, I'll be scamming you, I mean, no offense, but I don't want either to happen, so..."

    "I'd rather like it if you could keep this a secret," Maiya said, walking around to stand by the threadmill, which did look rather ordinary and, should we say, run of the mill to her. Then it turned itself on, despite being unplugged. "Oh, shit."

    "Kya!" Ayaka yelped. "It never did that before! Not even when I hit it with the mallet! Why...?!"

    Maiya blinked back at her. "Why... Why would you ever hit it with a mallet? Never mind, step back, I'm going to cordon this area!" she said, resolutely zipping her jacket open and pulling some yellow tape out. "I must have reacted to me, somehow..."

    "T-T-To you? But, but why?!" Ayaka stammered. "Are you some sort of magical alien? ESPer? Slider!?" she shrieked, suddenly experiencing painful flashbacks from when Suzumiya Haruhi had studied in Ohtori, ones she'd purged ever since until now. "Magical Girl?!"

    "Do I look like a Magical Girl to you?!" Maiya said, shoving her back towards the door as bolts of magical energy began flowing out of the spent machine and all across the rotting floor. "Get out of here, this is a chain reaction, there's no telling the range...!"

    Then she noticed the lower half of her body was disappearing. "This fucking shit," she bit down on her tongue, just as Ayaka whined and a last jolt of power ran up Maiya's body. It made its way up her disappearing arm, into the fingers currently grazing Ayaka's chest, and then into Ayaka herself. "I'm sorry," she decided telling the girl, with which might well be her last words.

    "F-F-For what?!" Ayaka cried, seeing her evaporate before her eyes right before she, as well, was consumed by this strange light, but much faster and into a single burst that blinded her.

    Oh well. It didn't hurt, at the very least. As far as ways to go went, surely there were wor
     
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  6. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Five, Part Eight
    OverMaster

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    "S-So, where are we now anyway?" Ayaka asked, as soon as she had stopped shaking enough to do it.

    Maiya hummed, then briefly stopped to kneel down on the dirt, under that beautiful, pure light blue sky stretching everywhere with no end in sight. She took some of the grass between her fingers, rubbed it together for a moment, and ended up saying, "Southern France, most likely. The time period, I can't say, but the air is so... strangely clean we must be sometime before the invention of gas fueled motors."

    "A-Are you serious?!" Ayaka cried, scared out of her wits. "So we're stranded Kami knows where, with no way back, and we'll die here, alone and forgotten?!"

    "If previous incidents I've been informed of are any indication, eventually we will be pulled back to our proper time period. Have you ever heard about the theories of 'The World', the planet's consciousness, constantly striving to correct all anomalies?" Maiya asked serenely, starting the match again. "From what I've been able to gather from these events in the short time I've been here... well, there, back in your time... I'd say this force of will, one that you could link to the Gaia of the Greek perhaps, tries to correct alterations as soon as possible. Of course, I'm not an expert on the subject and this is just an educated guess based on what I've read from my master's texts. But I'd say there's a solid chance the situation will correct itself eventually. You just need to be patient."

    "Right, it's not like I can do anything else..." Ayaka groaned, looking at the massive green landscape, seeing nothing but prairies, forest filled valleys, and other mountains. "Do you have any idea where are you taking us?"

    "Not exactly. But the South is that way, if this is Southern France then our best is to find the Mediterranean and any coast towns. It could take a few days, but we can live from the wild easily even if we don't find any villages in the meantime."

    "Wh-What if we fell too far into the past, like the age of cavemen, and there's no town to find?!" Ayaka demanded. "I don't want to be some Cro-Magnon's bride!" Then she was hit by a sudden realization. "Wait a second, you said 'my' time. So you're from the past too?!"

    "Only ten years ago."

    "So that's why! You came from the Fourth Grail War, didn't you! You got to see my sister?!"

    "I did," she admitted, seeing no real point on hiding it anymore. "She was with a Servant of the Lancer class."

    "Was he a really handsome man?"

    "Did you ever meet him?"

    "Any man my sister associated herself with would have to be an extremely handsome man," Ayaka said, some of the magi's usual haughtiness briefly coming through. "A real prince."

    "Not a prince as such, but... Concerning your earlier question," she said, pointing ahead, "unless they worshipped Christ thousands of years before Anno Dominni, I don't think we should be concerned about running into any Prehistoric men."

    Up the mountain, now they could see a solitary woman resolutely striding her way. A very pretty young woman with long, silky smooth dark hair. She wore a mostly white garment that was highly revealing, showing off a lot of succulent cleavage and long, slender legs in tall blue stockings. Despite of that, her clothes also gave the impression of belonging to some sort of religious order from their overall design choices, like the cross motif in the opening of her chest. Not to mention the gigantic cross that she carried around, assuming that was actually a cross and not a cross-shaped lance or gun or sword or rocket ship or whatever, that was. Ayaka couldn't discard anything anymore.

    "What a weird person," Ayaka said.

    "I've met worse," Maiya replied, and hastened her pace, waving a hand up and shouting in French. "Good morning...! Sorry to disturb, could you help us a moment, please...?"

    The stranger turned her head back, stopping and regarding the approaching women with curiosity, then giving them a pleasant, polite smile. "Of course I can, anyway you want me to," she offered, her French noticeably more archaic but not that much Maiya couldn't understand her. Ayaka, meanwhile, knew no word of French, primitive or not, beyond Monsieur and Madame, so she only could blink on haplessly.

    "My niece and I have lost our way while heading home," Maiya said, bowing her head at the woman in white. "Well, it is my home, but she comes from... the Isles, and has yet to learn our language. Right?" she asked in Japanese, glancing back at Ayaka.

    "Right what?" Ayaka innocently asked.

    "Yes, just like my brother said, she's completely ignorant on the language," Maiya sighed, turning back to the gorgeous lady. "That is why we got lost, actually, she's no good with our maps, and then lost them, and..." she left the sentence unfinished but made a vague hand gesture to complete her point.

    "Ah, you are from Nerluc!" the other woman beamed happily, swallowing the whole lie up. "That's fine, you won't have to worry about the Tarasque anymore, I was sent to take care of that. I'll take you back once I've handled this!"

    "The... Tarasque?" Maiya blinked, stopping following the woman, and then slowly turning her eyes towards the top, and the huge dark cavern drilling its way into its depths.

    "I'll tell you what I told your compatriots, the love of the Lord overcomes all," the woman piously said, doing the sign of the cross and kissing her fingers devotely. She, too, stopped before the gigantic black mouth she had just reached, making a gesture so Ayaka would stop too. "You may turn back if you wish, this sermon might get a bit... intense after all. I'm afraid that sometimes, I get too carried away while preaching. For that possibility, I dearly apologize in advance."

    Ayaka tapped on Maiya's shoulder. "What is she saying, Maiya-san?"

    "She," the short haired female said, "is Saint Martha."

    "Is that one of those saints who were chopped into pieces and then burned on a giant pail and all that gross stuff?" Ayaka asked.

    "N-Not exactly, you will see, her legend is-"

    Martha slammed her staff down on the ground and raised her hands. "O Tarasque, Tarasque, the cruel one!" she called out. "Son of Leviathan, thou have troubled the son of man, the Lord's rightful chosen heir, far too long! Please heed to my voice, and most important, that of our Lord Almighty! For the salvation of your primal soul, show yourself! Listen to the Lord's admonishment! Please?"

    From the pitch darkness of the cave, a low, hideous sound rose, a slow, ever growing roar that chilled Ayaka's blood. She clung onto Maiya's arm even as a titanic beast came out of the cavern, and Ayaka shrieked in panic. This was the biggest animal she'd ever seen by far, even larger than an elephant, a reptilian creature covered on thick armored scales, sporting several pairs of short stubby legs armed with huge claws, and waving a long tail around. The ground rumbled under its feet, but Martha only kept on smiling saintly at it.

    "Brother," the holy woman appealed to it musically, spreading her arms open. "Just like I suspected, there is still hope for you. You attended the call of our God, Father to you and me. Should you keep on listening, you shall also bask in the rewards of His love, just like I have. There is no heart too black or charred for redemption. That being said, you also have to make the compromise-"

    With an even louder, more agressive roar, the dragon vomited a pillar of flames at her.
     
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  7. Threadmarks: You'll Learn Something if you aren't Careful, Chapter One, Part One
    OverMaster

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    Mahou Sensei Negima! is the creation and intellectual property of Akamatsu Ken and Kodansha.

    Bokutachi Wa Benkyou Ga Dekinai is the creation and intellectual property of Taishi Tutsui and Shueisha.



    "Nariyuki-san, may I request a favor from you, please?"

    Nariyuki Yuiga, who was just leaving his classroom, had thus to stop and look back at Negi-sensei, while the rest of the boys in the class left happily, chattering among themselves over the things they'd do during the Mahorafest. The black haired, bespectacled teen walked the way back to the teacher's desk and looked curiously at the little man currently sitting behind his, fingers steepled, expression troubled.

    "Sure thing, what is it, Negi-sensei?"

    Negi Springfield sighed. "I've heard you have been helping a few students from the female wing with their studies of late. Certainly a commendable activity, and from what I understand, you have done a remarkable job with them."

    Praise fom Mahora teachers was rare indeed, even that coming from the gentle Negi (although praise never came from Honnouji students, and praise from Ohtori teachers usually only came while in bed, so Mahora students still had it easy compared with them). And so Nariyuki felt justified on smiling proudly while scratching his head. "W-Well...! The merit's not all mine, Ogata and Fumino are both good students who just happen to have a few weak areas...!"

    "I know," Negi said, somewhat more weary than his custom, "and yet you've done fine with Takemoto-san as well, seeing as she is... well..."

    "Ah... yes..."

    A gentleman won't openly talk on such subjects when it comes to a lady, so they both simply kept an awkward silence until Negi forced a smile and pulled on, "A-Anyway, you've raised their grades where every tutor before failed, that's incredible! And so, um, I'd like to see if you could help me with... some students of mine who need extra assistance as well..." he bashfully asked, scratching the back of his neck.

    For Negi-sensei, the fabled child prodigy of Mahora, who had taken the whole school by storm in less than one year, to be resorting to him like this, it was extraordinary! This was the kind of event that would have all but fulfilled Nariyuki's existence earlier that academic year, but now, things perhaps more in perspective now, only pulled a wary, "Exactly how, sir?" from him.

    "You'll see, I've just been asked to overlook a different class of... foreigners, let us say, aside from my job at Mahora."

    Nariyuki thought this had to have earned a frown from him, since next thing he knew, Negi was apologizing, "The Headmaster knows about it, of course! I'd never neglect my students without a good reason! These are VIP, persons of interest we could call them, and it's vital they learn enough of our language within a short timeframe. I'll have to devote my after hours fully to them over the next few weeks, so I'm going to need some help with my former group with special needs, five students from my homeroom."

    "... special needs?" Nariyuki echoed dubiously.

    "Ahhh!" Negi gasped, eyes spiraling. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" he made his best Kaga Ai-sempai impression. "That's a bad thing to say nowadays, isn't it?! I'm sorry, I was raised in the hills so long ago, and I'm not hip with what you young people say or cannot say nowadays!"

    "Please don't talk like an old man, Sensei, you are ten," Nariyuki quietly requested.

    "I'm sorry, I just mean these girls are dumb! No, no, that was even more politically incorrect! No, what I really mean is, they call them the Baka Rangers!" The boy gulped. "In any case, I need someone to supervise their progress over these weeks, until I'm done with this side assignment. I'm hoping it won't be much of a bother, to make it easier for you, I'll lend you all their study schedules, you only need to make sure they follow them and don't stray away in flights of fancy..."

    "Well..." the older boy said uneasily, "if you ask it that way, I couldn't possibly refuse, Sensei. Only five, you say?"

    "Oh, yes, just five, I'm not asking for anything else!" he bowed, once again being the sole of Nariyuki's teachers who ever bowed to him and his classmates, except for Itoshiki whenever he asked for help with a suicide attempt. "Thank you very much, Nariyuki-san, they'll be there with you tomorrow, and they'll give you no problems whatsoever! If they ever do, please, just tell me!"



    You'll Learn Something if you aren't Careful.




    The three girls kept on staring at him.

    "What?!" Nariyuki asked finally. "I had to accept! What else could I do? It's Negi-sensei! I couldn't just ignore him, like you can do to Despair-sensei or Kimura!"

    "Still, it's class 3-A, Yuiga-kun!" warned the cute, long haired Fumino Furuhashi, lightly waving a pointer finger around. "The second most dangerous class in the school!"

    "Even the Save the World with Suzumiya Haruhi Brigade tends to stay cleer from 3-A's activities," lectured the ever dispassionate, short haired, rather curvaceous yet petite Ogata Rizu, the light from the outside sun glinting on her glasses for that extra warning effect, possibly because she had just calculated the exact moment to subtly move her head to achieve it. "They are sure to be a disruptive factor for us, one we never accounted for. This throws our whole studying schedule off balance."

    "3-A, huh?" hummed the tanned, fit, Takemoto Uruka around the melon pan she had been eating. "Ah, that's right, Akira-chan is from 3-A!"

    "Who?" Nariyuki blinked at her.

    "One of the girls in the swimming team," Uruka smiled. "She's really nice too, so I don't get why people say so many weird things about 3-A? Akira-chan's likable to a fault, never fails to help anyone, is reliable and honest... Really, her only weak spot is her taste in friends."

    "Meaning...?" Fumino ventured.

    "Well, sometimes her friends come looking for her, they're a really posessive bunch. There's this girl, the nurse, who acts all quiet, but you can tell she's got serious issues, and then there's this cocky girl always arrogant about her basketball team that hasn't ever won a tournament, and the most annoying is this really, really, really dumb pink haired girl who's always all over Akira-chan, but since they're not 3-A, they... they... Oh," she took a hand to her mouth. "There's no reason to think they wouldn't be 3-A too, right?"

    "Th-There's every reason to think they would be!" Fumino gasped in alarm, a moment before they heard the tingling of bells.

    Nariyuki, Ogata, Fumino and Uruka all looked towards the door of the classroom they'd been given for their sessions, and it was pulled open from the inside. A girl with long reddish hair in twintails held together by tiny golden bells stepped in, mismatched eyes shiny in blue and green. Behind her stood a girl who was even shorter than Rizu and flatter than Fumino, a tall, foxy, well built brickhouse of a teenager with a lazy wide smile, a short and inquiet looking dark skinned blonde, and finally, a careful moving pink topped short girl who elicted a brief but marked frown from the ever easy going Uruka.

    "Ah, good afternoon, I'm Asuna from 3-A," announced the girl at the lead, holding a piece of paper before herself. "Negi sent us, you're that temporary tutor guy, right? These are Yue, and Kaede, and--"

    "Ahhhhh!" the pink haired girl interrupted by pointing at Uruka and gasping. "You're that girl, that one who swims with Akira-chan! The foreigner, Shirley-san!"

    Uruka slammed a hand on her desk at the only flightier mind in Mahora than her own. "How many times do we have to tell you?! She's Shirley, but I'm Uruka...!"

    "Then Shirley's the one with the glasses, the one who moved in from Honnouji?" Sasaki Makie blinked. "I knew I'd gotten it wrong, sorry..."

    "You did! That's Nonogusa-san!"

    Makie giggled and rubbed the back of her neck. "Sorry, sorry! I even forget the names of my own teammates too, and I've been with them for three years!"

    Nariyuki paled starkly at this, then looked again at the notes Negi had left for him.

    The dark skinned Chinese and Ogata, in the meanwhile, had just fallen into a fierce, still quiet duel of locked glares of their own.

    "Udon girl," the former said icily.

    "Nikuman girl," the latter said just as glacially. "So, we meet again..."

    "That was properly dramatic, you are making advances with your sense of such dialogue," Fumino congratulated her quietly before smiling at the other very flat girl. "Nice to see you again, Ayase-san, I never imagined you'd be in such a group...! I always thought you'd be an academic prodigy, for you to fall with the lowest scorers, that is so strange...!"

    As usual, you're saying such hurtful things without even realizing it! Nariyuki despaired inwardly.

    Ayase Yue, however, gave no signs of feeling offended and bowed at Fumino. "I'm just hopelessly lazy. Looking forward to waste the next few weeks with you, Furuhashi-san."

    What's with that kind of attitude?! This is what I have to work with now?! Nariyuki was furher pulled down the abyss. Then he realized the Asuna girl was staring very directly at him, and he couldn't help blushing. "I... I'm sorry, what is it?" he gulped.

    "I was sure you'd be older," Kagurazaka Asuna bluntly told him. "A college student, at the very least."

    Nariyuki wasn't fully sure of why, but that still did hurt.
     
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  8. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Five, Part Nine
    OverMaster

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    "For the love of God, let's just leave already!" Ayaka shrilled, covering her ears with both hands to block the horrible roars of the beast as well as she could. "That thing's going to kill us!"

    "No," Maiya grunted, once again pressing her hand down on the girl's head to keep her sitting on the ground, behind the large boulder they were hiding behind. "It will kill you as soon as it sees you. History's already written, she will tame this beast sooner or later."

    "History?!" Ayaka wailed. "This is only a legend! For all we know this animal will just roast her and us right here and now!"

    "Well, if you think you can run into the open and fight it as soon as it notices you, you are welcome," Maiya bluntly told her. "How many of those many talents do you share with your sister?"

    Ayaka blinked, sobbed, and then held two crow feathers up. "D-Don't mock me, I told you myself, I'm a good for nothing..."

    "Against a dragon, most magi cannot help being so," Maiya replied stoically, risking a glance back over the shoulder, a Glock 19 now in her other hand. "Myself included."

    "Then... Then what's the gun for?" Ayaka sniffled.

    "One bullet for you, the other for me if it kills the Saint and comes after us," Maiya deadpanned. "It'll be better that way."

    Ayaka took both hands to her own head. "I hate my life...!"

    "Please, I must insist!" Martha was shouting, gasping and leaping over the next fireball from Tarasque's mouth. "Open your heart to the message! If you were to stop attacking the villagers, I'm sure they'd accept you as one of their own!"

    The beast chomped for her, barely missing her as she pulled back acrobatically. Maiya had to grow impressed at this level of skill while preaching so vehemently.

    "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment!" Martha quoted, all but dancing around the flames the dragon kept on sending her way. "I won't hold any of this against you, but to be loved, you need to stop hurting others! Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you..."

    The dragon whipped its tail around in a wide circular motion, trying to sweep her off her feet, and she jumped over it, then slamming the cross into it. Piercing, actually, elicting a howl of deafening pain from the behemoth. "LISTEN TO ME, WILL YOU?!-?!"

    Tarasque, wounded but far from critically, swung the tail and sent her crashing against a wall of the cavern. It spat more fire at her, but this time she managed to duck under it. Rolling towards the creature, she brought the giant staff up to sock it on the jaw, its head barreling back on its short, sturdy neck.

    "Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on Him!" Martha lectured, taking advantage of the dragon's brief spell of diziness to punt it in the mouth. The monster opened its jaws again, and tried to spew more fiery doom, but only weak wisps puffed out as she slammed the staff onto its teeth, shattering some fangs. "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him...!"

    Stunned, the Tarasque staggered back. Martha hissed in fury, holding the cross with both hands tightly, and repeatedly slamming it down on the reptile's head.

    "I!"

    WHAM!

    "Am!"

    WHAM!

    "Trying!"

    WHAM!

    "To!"

    WHAM!

    "Help!"

    WHAM!

    "YOOOOUUUU!"

    WHAM!-!-!

    Ayaka and Maiya were both looking on around the boulder, in complete bafflement, as Martha breathed in and out heavily, chest heaving up and down. Tarasque looked groggy on wobbly feet now, and after a few moments of it stumbling around aimlessly, the holy maiden sighed and brought her hands together. "My deepest apologies. Now, let us discuss our differences rationally, since you have been shown the error of your ways. This was Heaven's punishment, but there is another side to the Lord's kingdom, one of never ending grace for all His creatures, large and small. Tarasque, you have not known love and I pity you, but you can-"

    With renewed vigor and madness, the beast pounced back towards the woman again, clawing at her with its fore limbs.

    There was a suddenly reborn insane glint in Martha's eye, and tossing the staff aside, she charged on at the dragon, punching it in the snout over and over, with machinegun velocity, each blow exploding like thunder, and small creaks of shattering cranium following each hit only to be drowned by the next. "WHAT WAS I TELLING YOU, ARE YOU DEAF OR DUMB OR WHAT?! I TRY TO BE NICE WITH YOU AND THIS IS WHAT I GET, YOU DUMB ANIMAL WHY WON'T YOU JUST LISTEN AAAAARRRGHHH!"

    Tarasque whimpered, rattled, backed away with the awkwardness of a drunkard, and then dropped unceremoniously, causing a small quick tremor.

    Martha sighed again, sadly, and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the back of her fist. "There, now you're more willing to listen, aren't you? Good, good. I'm sure we'll be good friends from now on. There's no reason why we shouldn't be, after all. We aren't so different, you and me."

    Maiya came to her, walking out from behind the rock. "I think you killed him."

    Martha laughed shakily, blushing. "Oh, you were watching! S-Sorry you had to see that! But of course he's not dead, I can pull my punches..."

    The dragon turned around on its back, trembled several times, and now relaxed.

    "I'm pretty sure," Maiya opined, "those are his death rattles."

    Martha clenched her smile on. "No, no, no... N-No! I don't kill, I'm a messenger of peace. I had to stun him a little, sure thing, but now he'll wake up and-"

    Tarasque let out a last, wheezing heave for air, and then his head lolled aside, forked tongue creeping out.

    "Please tell me you killed it! Please tell me you killed it!" Ayaka screamed from behind the boulder.

    "... it's only a knockout," Martha guaranteed, sweating. "Nothing else."

    Maiya and her kept watching on. Tarasque was not breathing anymore.

    Martha pulled her hands together and closed her eyes. "He is in peace now. I have delivered him to a better place. Let us pray..."

    Maiya was not a religious woman, but she wasn't going to bicker with a woman who had just killed a dragon with her bare hands, so she joined in on the quiet prayer.
     
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  9. Threadmarks: You'll Learn Something if you aren't Careful, Chapter One, Part Two
    OverMaster

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    Kirisu Mafuyu had no idea why she hung around with Taiga. That is, it certainly was better than hanging out with Arai Chie- heartless bitch- or Kuroi Nanako- unbearable womanchild- or Sugiura Midori- chronical drunk- or even Sagisawa Youko- tolerable enough, but hanging with her also meant hanging with Midori. Still, it wasn't like Fujimura was all much better than them, either. Was she that desperate for someone to call a friend within her circle of colleagues?

    "C'mon, why the long face today?" the short haired woman laughed, as they sat at the usual table of the snack bar. "I mean, more than usual? Is that boy causing you trouble again?"

    "Who, Katsuragi?" the pink haired, much more traditionally feminine woman grumbled, refusing to meet her gaze. "No, I've decided it's not worth the annoyance. Let Nikaido handle him, she-"

    "No, no, I mean the other one, that one you were trying to torpedo down," Taiga hummed, trying to remember while tapping with her chopsticks on her plate. "Nariyuki! That's it!"

    Now that made Mafuyu snap her face up to stare at the cat-grinning female devil, outraged. "Torpedoing him?! That implies willing sabotage! All I was doing was, arguing his methods are foolish and-"

    "Cut the kid some slack, Mafuyu-chan, you know he's got it rough," Taiga asked, somewhat more softly now. "If he can't succeed he'll have to move over to Honnouji, and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."

    "That... That's something beyond my control, I have to enforce the regulations regardless," the other teacher said. "You of all people should know. You've never been someone to 'cut slack' on people!"

    "I have no patience for underachievers and slackers," Taiga allowed. "That boy's neither. I don't think it's fair he'd be kicked out just because he can't pay the dues and you don't even let him keep making it as a tutor."

    Mafuyu, her appetite already spoiled even further, pushed her plate with the leftovers aside and, just as moodily, began sipping her juice through the straw. "If you think he's so notable, why couldn't you even remember his name? And if you are so hellbent on his staying, why don't you pay his dues? You've got the money."

    "The Fujimura money isn't mine to spend, really," Taiga mused with a faint smile, looking out the window, at the reddish afternoon stretching all the way over Academy City, past Ohtori's barroque magnificence and CLAMP's functional eficiency in structures, all the way towards the threatening mass of the so-called Black School. "Even if it were, what could I do? Pay for every poor kid out there, so they can keep the hell away from there? Even Gramps couldn't pull that off..."

    "Oh, you spend too long with the children," Mafuyu chided her. "All those horror stories about Honnouji have rubbed on you. It's not a pleasant place, I'll admit it... but then, it's not a pleasant world either."

    Taiga had, for once, no answer to this, taking her head back on her chair and staring at the bar's ceiling for a moment.

    "It's the Headmaster's own fault, really," Mafuyu said after a moment, draining the juice and looking at the empty glass. "Once he started paying students' tuitions out of his own pocket, why shouldn't we be that lenient with everybody else, right? Except because we can't. This isn't an ideal world. We have to work with what we have, and... Nariyuki-san should learn that already. He tries to steer students into areas they aren't qualified for, only to chase youthful whims."

    "Maybe you're right," Taiga shrugged, folding her arms and thinking of a boy with a foolish youthful dream. "Still, the world advances just because people try to go into directions we never were supposed to take, right? And it's not like the Headmaster pays for that many tuitions. I only know of one."

    "One's enough to set an example," Mafuyu said yet, clinging onto her point.

    "For the ill, but also for the better," Taiga shook her head, getting from her chair and pulling her jacket back on. "Remember, Mafuyu-chan, it's not just that those knuckleheads learn from us. Sometimes, we can learn from them too."

    Mafuyu sighed, not in the mood to play the game. "Goodbye, Fujimura. See you tomorrow."

    "Righto," the other woman nodded, moving towards the door, and waving at the half asleep man behind the counter. The small business was almost empty today, and even the radio seemed to have stopped. Then she glanced back over her shoulder and said something Mafuyu couldn't quite understand before leaving.

    That was strange, Mafuyu said as she sat there, resting a little longer before leaving. Taiga always was nothing short of loud and proud. She frowned to herself, trying to put it together from the way Taiga had moved her mouth, and what little she could hear from it, and ended up giving up before leaving herself.

    "I once lost a dream, too."
     
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  10. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Five, Part Ten
    OverMaster

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    "This must be it," Kiritsugu said, throwing his hand lamp's light onto the old, dusty treadmill at a corner of the cramped, smelly, darkened attic. "Well, boy? Prove yourself useful. Get to work."

    Shirou looked back over his shoulder, at the broken window, and winced. "She's going to call the police on us."

    "She won't if you don't help her and Maiya back," Kiritsugu said, crouching by the machine and gesturing at him to do the same, which he did. "Look at those footprints on all the dust, they walked in but never left. And it's not like Maiya to abandon her post either. I told her not to touch this, but I can't vouch for the girl."

    "Alright, let's just hope it doesn't dump anywhere else without bringing them back," Shirou sighed, placing his hands on the treadmill and trying to concentrate, closing his eyes. After a moment, he opened them again, craned his neck over to get better look all around the machine, and gestured back at the older man. "Screwdriver, please."

    Kiritsugu nodded wordlessly and unzipped the black bag he'd brought along. Over the next half a hour he just sat there, watching the younger Emiya work, handing him tools whenever he asked for them, the boy not talking to him otherwise. Kiritsugu was not an expert in this field of mechanics, but he still could tell Shirou wasted no move, and regarded every piece with the cold, medical efficiency he lacked in his human interactions. "Funny, once you look what to look for, this... isn't that different from the toaster, really," he finished, handing Kiritsugu back the same screwdriver he'd begun with. He stepped on the treadmill and told the man, "Plug it on."

    "You sure?" Kiritsugu asked.

    "Anything we do at this point has to be a gamble," Shirou said. "Better here than taking it home, just in case."

    "Point taken," Kiritsugu dryly said. He plugged the machine on and then Shirou turned it on, starting a slow, cautious jog on it as it hummed and hewed back to life under his feet.

    Then there was the by now familiar flash of white lick and a woman dropped, chest first, on him, while a yelping young lady with glasses fell on Kiritsugu's lap and Maiya landed, headfirst, on a pile of old boxes containing stacks of ruined, fungous National Geographics.

    "- let him receive forgiveness through our pious pray- AAAAIIIEEE!" shrieked a voice in old fashioned French as the curvaceous woman in white toppled Shirou down, smothering him under her cleavage. "Ahhhh! I have been delivered to the devils?!"

    At the same time, the girl sitting on Kiritsugu hiccuped helplessly, stared at his impassive face with a bright blush, and then pulled away wailing, scooting back on her ass and smoothing her skirt down, feet kicking around desperately. "N-Now I'll never be able to marry...!"

    Maiya huffed, pulling her head out of a box and scattering magazines all over the floor. "Oh, for fuck's sake," she blandly groaned. "It's not like he wasn't wearing pants this time."

    Artoria Alter peeked in through the shattered window. "Ah, so here you are. Irisviel sent me to track you down, she wants to know when are we going to have dinner..."




    To be Continued?
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2020
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  11. OverMaster

    OverMaster L

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    Judas.

    "I'm sorry, Yukihime-sama, Touta-kun," she contritely told two-- and just two-- of the UQ Holder members helplessly scattered across the shattered ground, as Negi Springfield handed her the silver pieces. "But I'm afraid this is just my nature."

    She began walking away. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go look for a tree."

    ---

    The Only Ones I Care About.

    Melville got the call very early that morning. "Hello?"

    "Be out of town by noon," the familiar voice at the other end of the line said, and Melville sighed. He called Ashford, and turned out she'd gotten the call already. They packed the usual amount of luggage, gathered their respective children, then drove all the way to Bludhaven and passed the night there, each in their own hotel of choice.

    By the next day the news were all over the dailies and the online portals. The Joker had, once again, been caught at the brink of destroying the whole of Gotham City.

    Melville and Ashford drove back, reopened the offices, then waited for the other usual call.

    Just as ever, they proved him legally insane and were paid accordingly. Melville bought himself another car, Ashford paid her daughter's latest no-good boyfriend to just fuck off away, and the world kept on spinning as always.
     
  12. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part One
    OverMaster

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    Fate/Stay Night, Fate EXTRA, Fate Extella, Fate Hollow Ataraxia, Fate Grand Order, Fate Zero, Fate Kaleid Prisma Illya, Fate Apocrypha, Fate Prototype, Fate Requiem, Fate Strange/Fake and Fate Type/Redline are the creation and intellectual properties of Type-Moon and Nasu Kinoko.




    "Well, we have made some progress today," Negi forced himself to smile, picking his papers back and shuffling them back into an orderly fashion before stuffing them back into his briefcase. "Especially you, Bedi-san, I'm impressed! You did much better than yesterday..."

    Bedivere smiled sweetly, bowing at him. "Thank you, Sensei, I just studied all night long on what you left for me! I may be slow at first, but once I get going nothing stops me!"

    Negi had to blink again at this sudden display of unexpectedly excellent Japanese. "Oh, well, I congratulate you for your effort, but remember, getting a good night's sleep is just as important..."

    Wart-san, Bash-san and Mash-san followed him all the way to the front gates of the Tohsaka manor, trailing respectfully behind him. "I apologize over my performance today, Professor," Artoria said, hands folded behind her back. "It has been too long since I last had to learn a foreign language."

    "Oh, no, that's fine, it's just your second day after all. I'm not expecting miracles from anyone, and you seem to have grasped the basics well enough," the boy teacher said. "Why, it can take even years to master the Japanese language properly..."

    "I'm afraid we don't quite have years to invest in this pursuit, Professor," Lancelot informed respectfully. "Perhaps you would happen to know of any alternative methods for us to learn through?"

    "Correct learning is not... something that can be hastened through any 'magical' procedures, Kyrielight-san," Negi had to frown a little. Being from the schools of Magecraft following pursuit of the Root above all other considerations, Rin had been vague on telling him whether his new students knew about magic or not, so he chose to play it safe. "It's not something that can be taken lightly, and I certainly cannot infuse you or anyone else with a shortcut to- Oh, good afternoon," he blinked at the six new arrivals who had just come as he prepared to leave. One of them he recognized. "Emiya-san, are these... friends of yours?"

    "Um, Sensei, this is... a brother of my late father, Uncle..." Shirou gestured at Kiritsugu uneasily, unsure of how to do this.

    "Norikata, Emiya Norikata," Kiritsugu introduced himself, shaking Negi's hand. "This is Merida, my fiancee," and Maiya reacted quite smoothly at this, only feigning a cold smile and nodding at the small boy. "This is Sajyou Ayaka-chan, who will be staying over with us for the duration of this project as well, and next to her, we have Martha-san, whom you'll be teaching as well starting tomorrow. Because you're Negi-kun, aren't you? The son of Nagi Springfield?"

    Negi blinked, and his eyes expanded a lot. "You knew my father...?!"

    "No, my brother did," Kiritsugu easily replied. "Martha-san already has mastered Aramaic, Latin, Greek, and French during her travels, she just needs some help with her Japanese..."

    "The blessings of the Lord be with you," Martha bowed at Negi, speaking in what he recognized as indeed actual Aramaic from the first century of our age. She wore a long brown trenchcoat over her other clothes now, buttoned all the way to her neck. "I still have no idea what is going on here, but I'm glad to meet you regardless. You look like a good, decent boy..."

    "Ahhhh... thank you, I try to do my best..." he gulped, elicting a smile from her before he turned at the woman who looked just like Wart-san, but with hollow, cold golden eyes and without the ahoge. "I assume you are to be taking lessons as well, Miss...?"

    "No, I can speak Japanese," she bluntly told him. "I don't have to waste my time with you."

    "Rude...!" Galahad scolded her, frowning.

    "She is... my sister, Alter," Artoria told the child, sounding slightly apologetic. "Forgive her ways, I have always had problems with my sisters' uncouth behavior."

    "You should have just put Morgan to the blade when you had the chance," Alter said, "instead of-"

    "I don't think you ever did it either, so why are you complaining?!" her counterpart protested.

    Ayaka gulped. "Excuse me, I'm staying where for the duration of what and why?"




    Fate: Time and Punishment.
     
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  13. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part Two
    OverMaster

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    Sometime else, somewhere else.

    "More liquor," the black haired, ponytailed woman in the multilayered white kimono and sandals told the bar maiden.

    "Yes, of course," the smaller, mousey woman replied, hurrying over to pick the patron's empty glass and go for a refill at the bar. Returning with a new helping a moment after, she was met with an annoyed groan.

    "Just bring the jar over and I'll refill myself," the patron suggested, before downing her next helping, mostly in a single large, long chug. Putting the tall glass back on the table, she added, "Or are you afraid I'll just run away with the jar, and without paying?"

    "My apologies. I'm only obeying the rules of the house," the meekly looking waitress bowed deeply. "Are you heading for the capital?"

    "Yes," the beautiful lady answered after a moment, as she had no real reasons to lie here. Many travelers were heading in that direction at the time, and if anything, at the present moment, it would be more suspicious arguing you were going anywhere else, in a crossroads bar so close to the big city. "Why do you ask?"

    "My honorable husband can take you there for a low compensation, no questions asked, my lady," she was told, in a low and reverent tone. "Unless you have another means of transportation already?"

    The traveler gave an astute smile, extending the once more empty glass ahead. "Oh, that does sound interesting. Bring me to him, and we'll speak on it. But first... another drink."




    Past those long, sinuous roads of dusty curves and sandy surroundings, flanked by dens of banditry and the huts of humble countrymen alike, the fabled Great Capital stood proudly, a magnificent testament to a lasting empire's glory.

    Colorful markets were decorated with all manners of lamps and stands everywhere, the chatter of merchants peddling fragant spices and curiosities from overseas mixing with the laments and demands of the beggars. The capital, vital and decadent at once, ever displaying the pulse of thousands of energetic inhabitants, was not always opulent, and within its tall walls there were many a misery, many an injustice, a never ending contradiction in terms that regardless reigned ever impressive over every other city in the immensely vast country of many lakes and green prairies.

    And the gem of this crown was the Imperial Palace, a fortress of impregnable walls, ever custodied by dozens of marching guards and their sharp, long lances of duty. Contained within the Forbidden City, the urban stronghold in the heart of the larger capital, the palace was tallest of all buildings in this China that never was, or was not as we dreamed it. A symbol of unopposed power, standing far above every other edification anywhere in sight.

    And at the top of this tower, the royal chambers themselves, hiding the Emperor's elongated silhouette behind the finest silk curtains. A beautiful woman with dark hair, wearing a black dress, knelt at the other side of these curtains, then lowered her face as well until it nearly touched the floor.

    "Your Majesty," she spoke, with a voice as sweet and pleasant as flowing honey. "Blessings be upon you, the Ever Living Emperor, Father of All China. Your loyal retainer, my husband, sends me with a word of friendship."

    "Speak, Guifei," graciously said the voice behind the curtains.

    "Your ever vigilant servant has received intelligence of a great perfidy being prepared against you, My Lord, and such an important matter, to his eyes, could not be relayed through a mere messenger, so relevant is its gravity," the postrated lady said. "Prince Dan is moving his poisoned hand against your state, and sent for a mercenary to strike at you. While many and able are the men who protect the Emperor, Husband believed he should be told regardless, so this villainy is stopped before it even blooms. This is our duty as rightful citizens, too."

    "Ah," the concealed figure said, stroking his chin slowly. "This is, indeed, of interest. An assassin, then. Well, these are terms of unrest after all. Before every great period of calm, a storm must roar, as sure as night announces the morning. We thank your services, Yang Guifei. But we are not concerned. A fox stealing into our midst shall only have the jaws of the dragon snapping around it." The silhouettes of those refined hands, briefly, came together in a decisive gesture. "The great homeland under the great reign is an inevitability. Ever present, unending as the seas and the skies, this is China. And woe to any who would pretend disrupting that order."

    "Sire," she genuflexed again, wondering when would he just stopping yapping and waxing already.

    "How is your husband doing, anyway?" he casually wondered then, fanning himself. "We trust he isn't being too much of a handful again...?"
     
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  14. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part Three
    OverMaster

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    "Very well, so this is what we will do," Akuta-san instructed Rin, quite sternly. Rin quietly burned inside, incensed at being lectured and commanded in her own house, but soldiered on for Sakura's sake. "I will lead the expedition, of course. We will use your machine and not Sajyou's since the former has been used more frequently, and thus I can assume it is more reliable. And you will come along, as you re this county's representative. I don't think bringing the Magus Killer's son will do anything but compromising the operation. His successes so far seem to have been flukes."

    "I won't argue that last part..." Rin said between clenched teeth, "but, are you sure he will relent that easily? He's got a point in that the machine was set at his rightful place of residence and posession..."

    "Your authority as landlord of this area overrules that, you only need enforcing your will properly," Hinako chided her. "Miyamoto and Sasaki will be brought along, since, even if they don't know the local language, they still can reasonably pass as locals without raising many an eyebrow, as long as they don't open their mouths."

    "Granted, that will be difficult to control in Miyamoto-san's case," Rin said, scratching herself on a cheek.

    "Leave that to me, if you cannot enforce any restrain," Akuta said coldly. "As for the final member of our party, Perseus. His many gifts will come handy, and I certainly trust him more than I would the Gorgons."

    Rin blinked. "None of King Arthur's knights?"

    "You just can't bring Englishmen to China, they'll just go insane and start ruining everything, and the Chinese will go insane as well in turn," Hinako wagged a finger sagely. "It's a recipe for disaster."

    "Okay, I can't argue that either," Rin admitted.

    "And I'm not trusting the Magus Killer himself or his companion, much less an Einzbern homunculus," Hinako added, steppling her fingers together. "Prepare some light luggage and go tell the warriors, we depart this afternoon."

    "You still haven't told us... why China, exactly?" Rin pressed on.

    Hinako smiled smugly, pushing her glasses up. "I don't owe you an explanation, but if you must know, I hold China as the strongest power that has been in a relevant position of world influence for the longest. The United States are too young a country, the European nations have come and gone and shifted in might, and Japan might as well be just an upstart with little to show in extension, manpower, or military tradition. But China remains ever constant, a titan never fully conquered, often assailed but never vanquished. If you really need a bastion of mankind's will to stand against disaster, we obviously must look at China first!"

    "Are you sure you're Japanese? By now I'm thinking you aren't!"

    Hinako glared at her from above the rim of the glasses. "If I weren't, would that make any difference to you?"

    "I suppose it wouldn't."

    Hinako just waved a hand at her. "You know what you have to do. Don't trouble me further until I need you to reactive the platform."

    "Yes, ma'am, whatever you say, ma'am," Rin dryly said, getting up from her chair and holding its back just tightly enough as to cause large fissures on it. "By the way, you still haven't shared which exact period of China are we aiming for. You really should tell me already."

    Hinako cleared her throat elegantly. "Yes, yes, I suppose I should. We are to look for whom I regard as China's greatest military and tactical champion, Lord Xiang Yu. I assume you know of his legend?"

    Rin nodded. "Of course I do. Destroyer of the Qin dynasty, a man who nearly reached the Golden Throne himself. I guess he's not a bad choice for a quick military campaign, but the records also show he was... how should I put it, a little..."

    "My intensive studies show there's no man better qualified for this task you speak of than Xiang Yu," Hinako objected with airs of great wounded dignity. "An unstoppable juggernaut who is guarantee to stampede all over any enemies we might face. I have researched on him through my whole life, and I wouldn't speak on his behalf weren't I completely confident on his capacities."

    Rin sweatdropped, seeing her suddenly break character at the tail end of this passionate rant, making a little goofy smile and staring at the ceiling with huge, distant and shiny eyes. A fangirl gone mad with power, huh... Rin thought.

    Well. At least it wasn't like she was aiming for Lu Bu.
     
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  15. Threadmarks: You'll Learn Something if you aren't Careful, Chapter One, Part Three
    OverMaster

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    "Let's see, now..." Nariyuki hummed, adjusting his glasses and looking over the preliminary tests Negi-sensei's students had just handed him. Miraculously, they all waited still and silent enough as he reviewed them, except for Makie, and even she did little but sneaking wary, curious looks towards Uruka regularly.

    "So?" Ku Fei asked after he was done with the papers, then just pondering to himself and still staring down at them. "Are we good or bad?"

    "Ah, you, Nagase-san, and especially Ayase-san have scored quite well, actually," the boy admitted, then looking at the ever impassive Yue. "I must say... in a way I agree with Fumino-san, you are a librarian and avid reader, and it's obvious you grasp concepts very well. Your struggle with Math, I can understand, but... for the other subjects, it's almost as if you almost reached the point, then failed at the simplest things."

    Yue shrugged. "I'm lazy," she repeated her earlier point.

    Nariyuki frowned, looking at Yue's test again. Laziness only could explain a relatively small part of it. From what Negi-sensei himself had said, she spet so long reading for pleasure that the knowledge had to sink in regardless, and the answers she got right were prof of it. She had a nice redaction style, her grammar and spelling were top notch, why did she keep on failing at the simplest things then? Was it extreme carelessness?

    He decided to keep on thinking of that later and address Ku Fei-san next. "Your problem, on the other hand, is much easier to grasp. You are still struggling to some degree with the language, and... I don't blame you, really. Japanese is complicated for any foreigner, even after years living here. You only need practice, practice, more practice. Once you can actually understand questions to their fullest, you should do fine enough."

    "I been busy with lots of other stuff of recent," the Chinese girl admitted, bowing her head.

    Nariyuki sighed, now looking at Nagase-san. "You seem to have a slight problem of focus. Perhaps you should take this more seriously, if you'll excuse me for telling you so. Reason your answers more carefully. Please try and put mure interest on it. I know you can do better, Negi-sensei handed me your grades for the last term's final tests."

    "This one was exceedingly motivated for those ones, de gozaru," Kaede said with a smile, "but this one doesn't think she could keep that amount of effort in a regular basis, Nariyuki-dono."

    The young man opened his mouth to reply something, but Kaede gestured at him to preemptively stop. "No, please. This one's dumb and didn't phrase herself correctly, my apologies. What this one meant was, this one would like being able to keep that level of regular effort, but that is beyond this one's capacity. How far can you run at the top of your speed, Nariyuki-dono?"

    "What does that have to do with anything?" Uruka asked.

    "Nin nin," the tallest girl present wagged a finger. "Much like an untrained person can only run so much for so long a time, so one only can stretch one's brain for so long before it gives up altogether. We all have our strenghts and weaknesses, and this one's weakness is her intellect. You cannot hope for the swallow to fly to the moon, nor the fish to jump over the mountain."

    "Then simply develop your intellect further by studying," Rizu told her.

    Kaede laughed lightly. "Ah, Ogata-dono, but you are being too literal with this. Training and effort only can drive one so far when one has innate disadvantages. Ku Fei-dono here is one of the best fighters this one has ever met, yet she won't ever beat this one in reach, for she was born with much shorter limbs than this one's, de gozaru. There's nothing that can be done about it. So this one can't do much about the shorter brain she was born with."

    "Brains aren't 'short' in the sense of height and size comparable to intellectual capacity," Rizu argued with a frown, "your memory and reasoning are not necessarily related with your size or that of your cranium and nervous system."

    "Again, you're being much too literal, Ogata-dono," Nagase said in that easy going way of hers.

    "What about me, Sempai?" Asuna asked.

    "Ah, yes, Kagurazaka-san. You..." he doubted before answering as honestly as he could, "You've got several of Nagase-san's problems, but oddly enough, I detect some of Ku Fei-san's difficulties with the written language as well. Which is strange, because you speak it perfectly, and you don't have cognitive disabilities, as from what I was told, you are skilled with Arts and Crafts..."

    Asuna frowned. "How many things has the brat told you about us anyway?"

    "Maybe," Riku said, "she has some specific dyslexia towards the written language form."

    "Dyslexia, what's that?" Asuna blinked.

    "Well," Nagase said then, "if it's a gaijin problem like Ku-dono's, then Asuna-dono might be a gaijin herself. She doesn't remember anything from her first few years of life after all."

    "Ohhh, yeah!" Makie snapped her fingers. "I'd never thought of that, maybe you were born and raised in another country, Asuna-chan! That's why your eyes are so round, and your hair's so red!"

    "The heck?!" Asuna gasped. "Cut that joke! My hair isn't as red as Asakura's, and Natsumi's eyes are rounder than mine!"

    "Murakami-dono's mother is an American though," Kaede observed pensively. "But enough of that for now, what about Makie-dono, Nariyuki-dono? For some reason she always seems to be left for the end."

    "I fail at being Sasaki Makie," the gymnast sighed with resignation.

    "Your problems are pretty much the same ones Uruka has been overcoming, Sasaki-san," Nariyuki informed her, far less cautious than he'd been with the other girls, "so that's familiar ground for us to work with. Uruka-san will help you with your studies."

    "Eehhhh?!" the swimmer gasped. "But, but I'm still trying to improve myself!"

    Nariyuki nodded. "Since she's your Kohai, most of the ground you've covered already is ground she has to cover yet. It'll help you as well, as a way to keep previously learned content well in mind. And the same methods that have worked on you should work with her. Besides, you've got a lot in common, don't you? You even have common friends."

    Makie nodded, impressed. "That's so smart, Sempai! So Sempai is what I could be if I were older and a bit more neurotic and more learned through life's difficulties! Yeah, I can see how that'd work! If I can get a bit more like her, that'd be great!"

    "Neurotic?! Since when am I neurotic?!" Uruka protested. "Do you even know what that word means, because I sure don't! And if it's the bad thing it sounds like, why would you want to be like me?!"

    Yue scratched herself on a cheek and sighed. "Yeah, well, maybe you are, just a bit..."
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
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  16. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part Four
    OverMaster

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    Now, you don't really need another scene where they gather around the platform, they bicker foolishly for a short while, there's another big flash of light, and part of the ever growing cast vanishes to recruit even more cast, do you? I mean, Hinako already told you who'd get to go and everything.

    I thought so.

    Rin looked at the control Illya had given her, calibrated the readings once again, and shrugged. "Eh. I think we have to correct time period after all. You're the expert Sinologist here, Akuta-san, what do you think?"

    Hinako took a deep breath, filled her lungs with that fresh, cool air blowing from the mountains onto the valley of humid grass they were standing on, and slowly, a wide pleased smirk crept up her lips. "Yes, this clear, fragant atmosphere! This sky, so pure, so untouched!" she cried out, throwing her hands up. "The crawling vermins haven't sullied this world so much yet! I have made it, this is the land of my heart itself! Finally, I live again!"

    "What is she saying?" Perseus asked Rin, wearing the clothes of a farmer from the era and place, and carrying his divine gifts in a large bag slung over his shoulder.

    "Her fetish's fulfilled, so good for her," Rin groaned in answer. "At the very least, we didn't land near a battlefield, so we have time to preprare a strategy, see where we go to from here..."

    "What a pity," Kojiro said, wistfully looking into the distance, and the rice fields wherein. "We didn't land on a battlefield, where we could immediately experience the thrill of battle, bet our lives again like the Kami intended us to..."

    "NO, I'VE JUST SAID THAT'S A GOOD THING!" Rin snapped at him, switching back to Japanese.

    So they began walking, until they reached the nearest small village of rice farmers. "Now keep in mind at all times," Hinako lectured aloud, while Rin mumbled translations for Perseus under her breath, "you are not to touch anything, much less anyone, unless I tell you so. Let me handle everything, and the two of you, remember you are just samurai working for me, and as such you owe obedience to my rules. Do as I say and you will be richly rewarded."

    "Okay, but now I'm starting to remember why I took the life of a ronin in the first place," Musashi said.

    "These streets are awfully empty, though," Rin mused with some concern. "The fields we passed by are all empty too, so where's everyone? It can't be the village was attacked, everything is in order and there are no signs of violence..."

    "We'll learn soon enough," Hinako said, approaching a street beggar sitting on a street corner, wearing the time period fitting robes she had brought along and, if Rin suspected correctly, sewed herself in the first place after tons of obsessive reading on the subject. Weirdo. "You, masterless dog! Where are all the other commoners?! Speak soon if you have a tongue!"

    Rin yelped. "Why are you so vulgar of a sudden, we're just going to call attention upon ourselves!"

    The spent, whithered frail man, mostly naked and otherwise clad in rags, raised his bald head to squint at Hinako. "Haaaa! The Empress' emissary summoned everyone to the square, but I'm weak and ill, and I couldn't go... Where do you hail from...? Would you have anything for a pitiful old man to-?"

    "Empress?!" Hinako bolted up straight, blinking several times. "There only was one Empress in China, and she shouldn't be reigning at the time!"

    "W-Well," the old man coughed into a bony fist, "she's not our Empress if you ask the Emperor, but then again, the Emperor's forces aren't here right now, hers are. I'm sure we'll be punished over that, too, but what can we do? They just happened to march in, it's not that-"

    "Quickly, point the way to your square!" Hinako barked at him. "We must see this emissary at once!"

    "Of course you must, anyone not answering to the summon is to be punished," the old man wheezed. "Four blocks away in that direction, and don't tell anyone you saw me here. Haaaaa, I'm so tired, it hurts so much..."

    "On the double!" Hinako commanded, making her way quickly in the direction he'd just pointed towards. Perseus, Musashi and Kojiro switly went after her, while Rin, after a moment of perplexity, reached into her bag, pulled something out, left it on the beggar's hands, and offered him an apologetic nervous smile before taking after the others.

    The beggar blinked in puzzlement at the colorful bag in his hands, struggled with it for a moment, and finally managed to rip it open. He pulled one of the meat buns out, sniffed it carefully, and then began chewing on it with loosening teeth, enjoying the flavor much to his surprise.

    "Haaaaahh... maybe we really should have tourists more often after all...?"
     
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  17. OverMaster

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    Doing my Part.

    "Makie-san!" Ayaka gasped as she entered their room. "Why, why, why in the world are you drenching yourself on gasoline?!"

    Makie blinked at her, lowering the can she'd been pouring on her own head. "W-Well... the news said that, to stop the coronavirus from spreading, one has to immolate oneself, so..."

    "ISOLATE! ISOLAAAAAATEEEEE!" Ayaka kept on shouting even as she angrily scrubbed the whining Makie's hair down, both girls standing naked under the open shower.
     
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  18. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part Five
    OverMaster

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    Just like Rin had expected, the main square of the village was relatively small, and the crowd of countrymen, wives and children gathered on it had to remain fairly tight by each other just to fit in at all. Someone had erected a large podium by the head of the square, and a state bureaucrat stood on it, wearing fine robes and a tall ceremonial hat. With his thin, long moustache and elongated face, he almost looked like an old fashioned caricature, in contrast with the far more ordinary and human weary faces of the assembled citizens.

    Then again, Rin thought, perhaps it was the makeup the government officer was wearing, what gave that impression about him, as if accentuating the stylized traditionalism of his features, elongating the eyes with deeply applied shadow.

    A somber looking old man, white hair and oddly anacronistic dark glasses, sat by the podium, arms folded and a stern expression etched onto his face. While clearly older than sixty, he had a much stronger body build than the bureaucrat, and while he hardly was a massive person, he was leanly muscular, still lacking the sagginess of senility. Behind the two of them stood half a dozen of guards armed with spears.

    "Attention! Attention!" the cartoon of a man shouted, pompusly bopping a folded fan on the podium. "Empress Wu Zetian, your Divine Sacred Sovereign, shall be taking the census of you now! As instructed, we do hope every father has brought a relation of his belongings, of his children and beasts of labor! Every man in the age of service is to be tested by our doctors, to determine who shall pay tribute in her conquering army. All foreigners are to report their place of procedence and purpose on these lands, as well..."

    Rin took on this speech with great amazement, and a quick side glance at Hinako told her she was just as surprised. Wu Zetian's rule had come far before the time of Xiang Yu, had they missed their mark so badly?

    "Maybe we should leave," Rin whispered, leaning over to speak into the ear of the Clock Tower representative. "If they notice us, we won't be able to come up with good answers..."

    After a moment of baffled silence, Hinako whispered back, "No, no, eventually, we would have had to pass through a checkup. Just let me speak on our behalf. I know what to do."

    Rin wanted to disagree, but this really wasn't the time for it, as the bureaucrat was making every pater familias in the crowd step ahead, studying the lists they were handing him on scrolls with cold disdain, then handing them to one of the guards without glancing back at him. It was a small town, as mentioned previously; it didn't take long for the officer to get done and stare at the back of the crowd and the small, strange bunch surrounded by distrustful looks from the locals.

    "Approach," the man gestured imperiously with a hand, eyeing Kojiro and Perseus, then deciding the former looked older and thus like the one he should be addressing. An so, he did. "Who are you, and what is your contribution for the census?"

    Hinako bowed. "Sir, I am a widow, traveling for the capital. These are my late husband's servants, and out of them, only this girl can speak our language," she said, humbly gesturing at Rin. "We have just arrived, but if you would please allow me just a hour, I will gladly prepare an account of our travel expenses for your satisfaction."

    The man raised a fine, perfectly painted eyebrow. "Oh, is that so? I'm afraid there will be a problem with that, then. These are times of turbulence aimed against our beloved Mistress, and you should be well aware that any traveler must have all of their documents in the proper order, lest they be arrested under suspicions of sedition, espionage, and conspiracy."

    Oh crap, here we go, Rin thought bitterly, while glimpsing how matching smirks began forming, for some reason, at the corners of Musashi and Kojiro's lips.

    The refined man with many rings snapped his fingers, and the old man with glasses stood slowly. "This is Li Shuwen," the bureaucrat sneered, making Hinako and Rin grow even further perplexed, "deadly fist of the Empress' will upon her subjects. You should be honored he would visit this lowly village during this campaign, and he is remorseless when it comes to punishing the wicked, the fiendish, the enemies of the homeland. You mentioned heading for the capital, yes? Which capital would that be? That of Qin Shi Huang, perhaps...?"

    The citizens, carefully, began backing away en masse, warily eyeing the tense standoff behind the imperial party and these strange foreigners.

    "Present your weapons," Li Shuwen said, assuming a flexible, yet highly steady, unarmed battle stance. "I'm going to confiscate them. You'll decide whether from you or your bodies."

    "What did he just say?" Perseus asked Rin, sighing and pulling his mask out, securing it on his face.

    Rin gulped. "He wants to see if we have weapons or not."

    "Ah, is that all?" Perseus calmly replied, pulling his shield and sickle out of the large bag. "Tell him that we do."

    While the two swordmasters drew their blades as well, Hinako facepalmed and the villagers began running away.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
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  19. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part Six
    OverMaster

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    Back to the Future:

    "No, Shirou won't go. He has to train all day long with Maiya and me."

    "Oh, that's no problem then! Saber will go for groceries, won't you, Saber?"

    It wasn't even a question, it was a statement of a fact, and since it was a fact, Alter went to buy the groceries as Iri had said. It wasn't like she had anything better to do, and you really couldn't trust anyone else in the house with it. Not even Iri herself, actually, as much as Alter wouldn't say it loud.

    She followed the given list religiously, headed for the small market several blocks away, paid with Shirou's credit card, and she was heading back home calmly when she saw Archer walking down the street to meet her.

    And it was the Archer, of that there was no doubt, even if it made no sense he'd have survived to the present day. Not a day older since back then, yet wearing the casual white shirt and black pants of a modern commoner rather than his ornate, fastuous golden armor. But it was the same hair of gold, the same serpentine red eyes, and the same build, and above all, the same arrogant smirk on his face as he stopped before her, hands slotted into his pockets with only the thumbs poking out.

    "So it is you, Saber," he greeted her. "I just knew it. You have changed, somehow, and yet... this was fated to be, no doubt. Hah! Fu, ha ha hah! Even now, fortune smiles upon my worth, as my fondest wish, that of ever engaging you again, has been granted! It took some time, but that damned Grail worked in the end..."

    "You're mistaking me for someone else."

    "Oh, are you pretending now? Lies never would suit you, Saber. So stop with them. If you wish to keep, even now, the appearances for the peasants' sake, I'd rather have us taking our interrupted fight elsewhere, far from prying eyes."

    "You misunderstand me. I am the Saber, I'm not denying that. Yet, I'm rather sure I'm not the Saber you knew."

    Gilgamesh lifted an eyebrow. "Oh?"

    Now they sat in a small nearby cafe, and he'd even bought her a hamburger, not that she had bothered to thank him. "I see, that is quite a... strange and ridiculous story, but I'll believe it since you never were one for flights of fancy. I have witnessed far stranger events anyway, both in the day of Uruk and in this world we have to deal with now."

    "How did you even survive?" Saber asked him. "I saw the Grail consuming you."

    He sneered, snapping his fingers. "Saber, please! A manmade invention from lesser mongrels, destroying me? I overcame that pitiful artifact through mere willpower. I forced it to grant me a new, perfect body," he boasted, flexing his arm for her unimpressed benefit, "and give a new chance at life. Ever since, I have been wandering this age, occasionally drifting back here... it's not such a hopeless world since some champions rose to defend it. Fools and knaves, most of them, but the one they call 'Superman' shows some promise..."

    Noticing the way the patrons from the next table were discreetly staring at them, he growled, "We're practicing for a play," and went back to talking with Saber. "However, the sheep are so docile, so mindless nowadays. All you have to do is telling them that and they will believe it. And should you engage into epic combat, by the next day someone will blame it on a gas leak and everyone will forget. They believe any authority, or even worse, the Internet."

    "Truly terrible," Alter flatly said after another large bite and gulp. "Yet it gave you a human body, didn't it? You should have aged at least some..."

    "A healthy diet, reasonable amounts of sleep per night, and good genetics."

    Saber stared at him.

    "Very well, so I drank a potion from my treasure and spent a few years reliving my childhood. Would you blame me, Saber? I wanted to experience videogames the way they were meant to."

    "... I'm almost sorry I asked. Then, do you wish to duel now? Because I would like to take this home first."

    Gilgamesh shrugged condescently. "If you really aren't the same Saber I knew, there's little point beyond the mere pleasure of taming another of you. Which is no small temptation, either, but I'm in no hurry. Not now that I know we both have all the time in the world. Go to your simple fleeting pleasures and lesser people if you like. When I feel like it, I will go and knock on your door, demanding for the satisfaction of my right."

    "Okay," Alter said.

    He chuckled, reaching over to smooth her scalp down. "I must say, however, what you did to your hair was a crime. Why would you get rid of the cowlick? I liked it so very much..."

    Without a word, Saber grabbed him by the wrist and twisted it cruelly, until he began twitching subtly in stubbornly repressed pain.

    All the rest of the way back home, Alter never stopped to consider whether she'd have done wrong on telling the Archer about them or not. In her barren dead heart there was no real concern for the rest, and as for Iri, she felt confident she could defend her should the ocassion rise.

    "I'm back," she deadpanned while walking into the house, listening to Shirou's grunts and yelps from the dojo.

    "Oh, Saber!" Iri smiled as she greeted her. "You took longer than expected, did you have any problem along the way?"

    "Nothing remarkable." She pulled something out of the box. "This wasn't in the list but I bought it regardless. I hope you won't mind."

    "Hamburger meat? Oh my, that is on Shirou-kun's money, but I suppose he won't mind..." Irisviel took the bags and looked through them. "You forgot Illya's batteries, though."

    "Ah, I knew I was overlooking something..."
     
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  20. Threadmarks: You'll Learn Something if you aren't Careful, Chapter One, Part Four
    OverMaster

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    "I heard now you're tutoring some of Negi-sensei's classroom, is that true?" Oomori asked that night, just as the three of them were in their beds, getting ready to call it a night.

    "Wait, was that just now?!" Kobayashi Haruma sat up on his. "Since when, and why hadn't you told us?! Nariyuki!"

    Nariyuki groaned, turning away on his and facing the wall. "It's a recent development, we only started today. What, are you going to accuse me of seducing them as well?"

    "I don't know," Oomori Kanade confessed. "I suppose even you couldn't beat Sensei and the Perverted Beast at their game, but..."

    "I'm the same as them now?!" Nariyuki gasped, bolting up on and batting his eyes.

    "Well, I just said you weren't quite that far gone, didn't I?" Oomori reasoned. "But you're getting there."

    "Um, that was praise, actually," Haruma pointed out. "And at least you don't fondle or strip them somehow and then call it 'accidents'..."

    Nariyuki sighed, reached towards his nightstand for the glasses, and put them back on. "I think only two of them are in that club of Sensei's. And one of them is in love with Takahata-sensei, even..."

    "Well, be extra careful then," Haruma adviced. "Death Glasses will beat you to a pulp if you do anything to her."

    Nariyuki stared briefly at his handsome roommate. "... thanks for the concern."

    Haruma smiled kindly. "You're welcome!"

    It occurred to Nariyuki, then, that he actually didn't know a lot about the ever rumored club Negi-sensei patroned over. "Oomori?" he asked. "That club, it's supposed to be teaching them something, isn't it?"

    "Yeah, they call it the English Research Society," the taller boy confirmed. "But I'll bet none of them are good with English, right? I knew it, God knows what they actually do there..."

    "Whoa, slow down there, Sensei's still only a kid after all," Haruma gestured down with a hand.

    "Well, yeah, but... I wouldn't trust the Perverted Beast, maybe he's using him to throw suspicions away? Then there's Despair-sensei, I'm sure he's just faking the whole depressed act. You'd think he'd have actually killed himself already..."

    "Right, and then I heard they let a college guy hang around too," Haruma nodded, sounding concerned.

    "Is it that bad, really?" Nariyuki asked faintly.

    "Well, that's what people say, but what do I know?" Ootori said. "After all, you actually are a pretty chill guy, despite what everyone says about you."

    Nariyuki drooped, with a groan. "Great, and what do they call me, then? The Other Perverted Beast?"

    "Don't worry, you don't have that level of infamy yet," Haruma consoled him. "All the same, you should be careful about those girls. 3-A are trouble, everyone knows that."

    Haruma laid back after saying that, and soon he and Oomori were soundly asleep.

    But Nariyuki just kept on staring at the dorm room ceiling.

    After doing the usual wondering about Mom and the girls back at home, he went back to thinking of those girls, in addition of those he already had to concern himself about.

    When it rains, it pours.




    End of the Episode.
     
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  21. Threadmarks: You'll Learn Something if you aren't Careful, Chapter Two, Part One
    OverMaster

    OverMaster L

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    Mahou Sensei Negima! is the creation and intellectual property of Akamatsu Ken and Kodansha.

    Bokutachi Wa Benkyou Ga Dekinai is the creation and intellectual property of Taishi Tutsui and Shueisha.




    When it rains, it pours, indeed.

    Another popular saying goes that idiots don't catch colds, but Kagurazaka Asuna knew from personal experience that either that saying or her personal- and general, for that matter- opinion of herself were in the wrong, and she felt more likely to believe on the former. So when she made it to the Yuiga house early that morning, she felt like maybe she should stop by a little longer than originally intended after all.

    The brown haired mature woman greeted her with the same warm smile as always. "Ah, Paper-chan!" she said. "Goodness, you're soaked! Maybe you should stay for coffee for a while, just this time...?"

    "Ah, actually, yeah, I think I'll take you on that now, Auntie," she addressed the woman by the appelative that she thought the best for the occasion, even if they really weren't close at all. As she was unshered gently into the small house, the twins she'd often see playing around during her delivery rounds rushed out another room to gape at her.

    "Oh, are you going to stop by for breakfast?!" the black haired boy asked.

    "Neechan, Neechan!" the brown haired little girl shouted towards their kitchen. "Prepare another plate, the Newspaper Girl's here!"

    "Um, actually, I won't stay that long, thank you," Asuna said, handing the mother of the house her morning newspaper, wrapped in plastic to keep the rain out. "My roommate must be cooking my breakfast right now, and-"

    "Well, then you'll eat twice today, what is the problem?" the adult laughed, handing her a towel. "An athletic girl like you isn't going to put on weight anytime soon, right, Miyuki-chan?"

    A black haired young lady, perhaps one year younger than Asuna, peeked into the living room, blinking at this unexpected visitor. "Oh... Sorry, how can we help you?" she asked cautiously. "Ah, never mind, of course... I, I suppose I can fix another plate, just give me a moment, I hope you won't be late for classes, Miss..."

    "Late?" Asuna asked, toweling her hair dry, the twins giggling as her tiny hair bells rang with this. "No, why would I be late, it's still so early..."

    "Ah, you study in Mahora, don't you?" the mother asked, taking Asuna's wet jacket off. "That's right, it takes Miyuki longer to get to classes than it would take you..."

    "Longer... Oh," Asuna swallowed, eyes wandering over towards the window, and seeing the huge looming mass of Honnouji in the distance. "But, I thought... I mean, this is Yuiga-sempai's house, isn't it..."

    "Oh, you know Nariyuki!" the mother happily said, while the Miyuki girl, who had since retreated back into the kitchen, popped out again, suddenly frowning. "Yeah, well, we only could pay his tuition for Mahora, Miyuki-chan takes the bus to Honnouji every morning, and Kazuki-kun and Hazuki-chan will be starting classes next year. But, should he start college next year, then maybe-"

    "How... How do you know Oniichan, if you don't mind me asking?" the girl in the apron over the junior high uniform smiled a bit nervously, stepping closer to Asuna while a hand was tightened ever so slightly around the large kitchen spoon she was holding. "Sempai?"

    "Oh, actually, he starting teaching us reinforcement classes yesterday," Asuna said. "Then I remembered your family name in my delivery list matched his, and I thought..."

    The black haired girl had let her jaw slack down ever so slightly, hanging loose as her eyes glazed over ever so faintly.

    Asuna blinked. "Um, do you feel well? Yuiga-san? M-Maybe you didn't get enough sleep last night, or..."

    "I'm fiiiiiiine, thanks for asking..."

    "Maybe I should go right now," Asuna decided.

    "Ohhh, I insist...!" Yuiga Hanae cooed, abruptly pulling a chair for her.




    You'll Learn Something if you Aren't Careful.
     
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  22. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part Seven
    OverMaster

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    Perseus had taken care of all the soldiers himself, with terrifying ease and speed, as if he were dealing with children. He didn't even need anything but his shield to strike them down, moving from one to the next, knocking out each with a single blow and always avoiding their spears without any real effort. Rin was fairly impressed, seeing as how this was the first actual proof she witnessed of his capacities.

    Musashi had engaged the old man first. They had collided head on, and he'd struck first, managing to sneak and crouch through her defenses and blowing the several feet away with a well applied palm strike, then pirouetting aside as Kojiro lunged for him, cutting him on a flank. The old man, not even acknowledging the surface cut, quickly fell into another stance and kicked at Kojiro's back, briefly sending him off balance as Musashi returned in a lightning dash, swinging for his neck and missing.

    By this point the bureaucrat had already fled into one of the villagers' huts, even abandoning his scrolls and his downed men, and once Perseus had been freed from his obligations Li Shuwen had to fight the three of them at once, despite which he held his own surprisingly well for some moments, resorting to a few tricks and moves Rin recognized from her own martial arts training; but most of them were completely new to her, and even smoother and more devastating than anything she'd ever seen Kirei pulling off.

    Yet once Perseus clicked his sandals together and they glowed in a stark gold hue, everything was over before Rin could even tell what, or how, had happened. She only saw a few blurs of frantic motion at the middle of the battle, heard the boom of a few bone crunching impacts, and next thing she knew, Li Shuwen was on his back on the ground, with Perseus keeping a foot on his chest, and holding his Harpe against the old man's throat. Smirking slightly, the defeated fighter held his hands up and spoke a quiet "Congratulations" in Chinese.

    Musashi dusted herself off from where she and Kojiro had been roughly shoved away in the heat of this strike. "What was the big idea, hitting us too?!"

    "You were in my way," Perseus said, understanding the intention well enough. Hinako approached them at that moment, aloofly, and the Greek hero asked her, "Do you want him dead?"

    "No," she said, crouching down by them, and then telling Shuwen in Chinese, "Take us to your empress. We are your prisoners now."

    Kojiro looked at Rin. "What did she just tell him?"

    Rin scratched herself on a cheek. "Ah, it's sort of a funny thing, really..."
     
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  23. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part Eight
    OverMaster

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    "Illya-chan," Sakura wearily said, walking into her guest room while pulling a jacket over her blouse. "You have healing magic, don't you?"

    Illya paused her videogame and frowned. "Now what?"

    "Sempai just called, he got a bit hurt during his training with Kiritsugu-san and Maiya-san. Kiritsugu-san used most of his mana healing himself, since he also got hurt during the training, and Irisviel-san used most of hers healing Maiya-san. Without Neesan around, you're the only one who can help."

    "Wow, why did the two of them got hurt too?" Illya asked. "Is Shirou really that strong after all?"

    "Well, it seems he only landed a few blows on them, nothing too serious, but then Martha-san misunderstood the situation and pummeled them down until Irisviel-san made everything clear. We really need to work on these language barriers."

    Illya grew a large drop of sweat on her head. "I see..."

    They barely had stepped out of the manor when Sakura heard a slight sound of bouncing coming from behind them, and she and Illya turned around to see a tall, busty, elegant blonde young lady, long hair stylized into dual drills by each side, standing on the sidewalk, wearing the Mahora High uniform and holding a school bag in a hand. By her side stood a much younger, taciturn petite girl of black hair and taciturn violet eyes. Sakura sighed and gave the former a formal bow. "Good afternoon, Luviagelita-san."

    "Good afternoon to you as well... Sakura-san," the other teenager said, keeping her distance and speaking aloofly. "I came here to have a few words with your sister. I noticed she has been skipping classes of late..."

    "Yes, she's been forced to undertake a few commitments," Sakura flatly said, gesturing at Illya. "This is Illyasviel von Einzbern-chan, who is staying with us this week. Illya-chan, Luviagelita Edelfelt, Neesan's classmate, and her, ah, sister Miyu-chan..."

    "Oh, an Einzbern?" Luviagelita asked, raising an eyebrow at the small albino. "How interesting. I had heard that bloodline was already extinct..."

    Illya smiled, pretending a playfully mocking courtsie. "No, that is just a misconception we have allowed to spread, so lesser clans can wallow in their decadence, none the wiser. A pleasure meeting you, Lady Edelfelt."

    Luviagelita flinched for a moment, with a vein pulsing on her forehead, and then clenched a smile. "Precious beyond your years, I see...! And what brings the last of the Einzberns to such a backwater country?"

    "Um, we shouldn't be discussing any of this in the open, should we?" Sakura gulped, looking up and down the momentarily otherwise deserted street.

    "There's nothing to be secretive about, we're just practicing for a stage play after all," Illya huffed, then told the blonde, "I happen to be checking on some old belongings of my family for Grandfather, and in doing so I came to consult with the Tohsakas on a few related topics. I find it more vexing a representative of a lesser family would stray so far from their limited range of domain to reside in Japan, however. What is your story, Lu-via-san?"

    "Lesser...!" Luvia hissed, squinting in a pang of fury, before straightening herself with a pompous laugh. "Ohh, ho, ho! I finished with most of my pending business in this area weeks ago, actually, but I'm finishing verifying on a few subjects before returning to more agreeable surroundings." At the sound of this, something in Miyu's backpack seemed to squirm for a moment, but she wordlessly slapped on it with a hand, calming it down. "By the way, Sakura-san, while calling my family on the subject, they told me to ask Rin-san on the topic of another recent visitor of hers. I was told our alma mater sent a representative your way recently, and I was wondering why would that be."

    "I don't think it's anything that concerns either of you," Illya said bluntly, taking Sakura by a hand and starting walking away with her. "Goodbye, Lu-via-san. Perhaps we will talk on these subjects later, whenever I actually have the time for it. Probably," she stressed, dragging the protesting Sakura along, and leaving a stunned Luvia there, just staring on after them.

    Miyu stared on as well, most intently at Illya's retreating back, but her expression was one of quiet concentration rather than her 'sister's bafflement.

    "Why in the world, that little skank...!" Luvia finally growled, slamming a foot on the sidewalk and cracking small fissures all over the pavement. "Not even Rin would dare...! And what are you looking at anyway, Miyu?!"

    "I'm only human after all," she apologized very quietly.

    "Ew, Miyu, no!" Luviagelita cringed. "Don't even think about it! I won't even mind if you choose going after that little weirdo with the glasses, but an albino doll?!"
     
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  24. Threadmarks: You'll Learn Something if you aren't Careful, Chapter Two, Part Two
    OverMaster

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    "Ah. You are a good cook," Asuna told Miyuki after swallowing her first mouthful.

    "Thank you," Miyuki said in pretty much the same tone, sitting across her at the small table, with the mother and the oblivious twins sitting between.

    "I'm trying to get better at cooking myself," Asuna said, just to have something fill the tense silence between the two of them, "and while I've improved, I still can't compare to Konoka... that's my roommate, by the way..."

    "Oh, as long as you keep on practicing you'll get it right eventually, that's this family's motto," Hanae-san told her. "Don't pressure yourself, but that's a nice goal to have, nowadays most girls don't worry enough as to be good homemakers."

    "Right, because even if you're going to stay single for a while, you still should be able to look after yourself, you know what I'm talking about?" a slightly more confident Asuna said, taking another biteful. "I hate relying on others, that's why I took this job in the first place."

    "Oh? Don't you get along with your parents, or...?"

    "Miyuki-chan," her mother said. "That's not the way."

    "Actually, I'm an orphan," Asuna idly said, and Miyuki felt her face flush the color down. "Konoka's grandpops is paying my tuition because he found me and took mercy on me, but... I'm going to repay him one of these days, no matter how long it takes."

    "I- I'm sorry to hear that," Miyuki stammered while the twins looked on, "I never imagined that you'd-"

    "That's okay, I never met them to start with, so it's not like I miss them," Asuna mused aloud. "Everyone's always been nice to me, now including even you guys, and I barely know you. Anyway, that's why I can sympathize with you, now I see Sempai has something of his own riding on this, too. I promise I'll start studying hard again. I let go after a while, just 'cause... I was busy with other things during that time, that's all."

    "Well, make sure you don't stop enjoying your youth, you just need finding a balance," Hanae advised, filling Asuna's cup. "And please remind Nariyuki he shouldn't strain himself either. Sometimes, we wonder..."

    "Oh, believe me, I know the type. Negi- that is, Sensei, he fills it so much it hurts! I'm shocked he finally could delegate us to someone else, he's so controlling and always want to reach for everything and everyone..."

    "Well, I suppose that must be a need for a child genius," Miyuki said.

    "Let me tell you something, when you spend enough time around geniuses or genii or whatever the plural is, you learn sooner or later that being a genius makes you an idiot," Asuna told Miyuki. "The real way to win at life is being middle of the road, nor dumb so others take advantage of you, nor smart enough others don't even want to be close enough as to take advantage. The 'not being too smart' part is easy, now I just have to work on the other one."

    Hanae laughed lightly at that. "My, my! For a girl who thinks herself dumb, you are quite the philosopher...!"

    "I've spent too long with Yue," Asuna argued. "Yue's another of the Baka Rangers, by the way. She's a weird case because she knows pretty much everything, yet she finds ways to fail, and frankly, I think she's further proof of my Idiot Genius theory."

    "Ah," Miyuki said blandly. "Like Ogata-san."

    "Ogata... ah, that's right, the Sempai with glasses, isn't she. Do you know her?"

    "Yes. Yes, we do," Miyuki said flatly.

    Asuna, a bit lost about what to do about this one, discreetly glanced over at Hanae, who shrugged her shoulders with a placid smile. The twins broke into laughter for some reason.

    "Eat some more, dear," Hanae-san said, refilling Asuna's bowl. "You've got a long day ahead of yourself."

    That, Asuna couldn't argue against.
     
  25. OverMaster

    OverMaster L

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    "Oh, kuso...!" the large man behind the wheel cursed, desperately trying to turn the vehicle aside just in time, as to avoid hitting the paralyzed, wide eyed young girl in the school uniform, staring in terror at her incoming doom.

    He managed, just in time, to swerve the massive truck just enough. She fell on her butt and shrieked, seeing the juggernaut career directly towards a post, then plowing all the way into a wall, which then crumbled down on it.

    The girl, sobbing to herself, worked back to wobbly legs as curious passerbys approached, muttering in awe and shock.

    "H-Hey, are you okay?!"

    "What in the world was that...!"

    "Someone help that poor man...!"

    "I think he's beyond saving by now..."

    And so I was.

    My life had been cut short by that point.

    I'd never see my family and friends again. All so another I'd never get to know could live.

    Truly, this was the end of my road.

    And yet...

    ---

    I Was Transported with my Truck to This Fantastic World of Wonder.

    ---

    "See, that is the mistake you caused in the system, now," the goddess said, tapping with her pen on the open book. "You should have hit the little girl, so her soul was transported to another world. However, you have altered the balance. What a bother. We will have to debug for weeks now..."

    "You can't be serious!" he said. "Was I supposed to hit her?! She was only a kid!"

    "It can't be helped, that's the way things are supposed to work," she told him. "Now, your body was cremated already, so we can't return you to life, and we can't get clearance for reincarnation just yet, so..."

    "Don't I get to go to Heaven?"

    "All booked up this year. It's an exclusive club, you should know. Let me try moving some pieces around," she said, reaching for her phone. "We might have a temporary job for you while we figure out what to do with you..."

    ---

    "Oh, ho ho ho, this is a truly delectable tea, Duchess!" the young, handsome blond prince laughed. "I will gladly listen to your daughter's-- What the devil is that sound?! OH NO, THE GIANT OF METAL!" he screamed as the gigantic beast with eighteen wheels rammed through the garden's gates and speeded directly towards him.

    The next thing he knew, he was waking up in a small, dirty bed, his delicate sense of smell offended by the large, pot bellied man with slanty eyes bopping him on the feet with a stick.

    "Get up already, you bum!" this disgusting man told him. "It's time to start assembling today's production!"

    ---

    "Heh heh hehhhh, we're going to enjoy this...!" the green skinned troll chuckled perversely, as he and his companions stood around the fair maiden of ragged clothes tied to the pole. He reached over and caressed her face with a slimy paw. "You're going to breed us-- OH HELL, NO, NOT HIM!" he yelled, seeing the monstrous machine suddenly storm through the swamp, zeroing on them all, and before they could start fleeing...

    "This," the toddler boy said, sitting in the nursery with his little brothers and sister, "is really, really, fucked up, even for me."

    The only girl of the sextuplets hit him in the head with her rattle.

    ---

    Saburo left the castle with a satisfied smile.

    "Ah, my life has been nothing but happiness ever since I died!" he said to himself. Pulling his sword out, he swung it around expertly. "Now I have girlfriends! Powerful magic! Loyal followers! What a sweet deal, I'd-- um? OH, NO, NOT YOU AGAIN!" he cried out, seeing the gigantic truck race in his direction, horn blaring demonically...

    When he opened his eyes again, he was back on his old bed, his mother was berating him madly, and then she slammed her love pillow on his face, all but spitting on him with all her bile.

    "Oh, fucking shit," he mumbled to himself.

    ---

    Now we keep the balance between the realms.

    All the souls transported to fantasy must be countered by souls heading to reality. Or else, all of existence suffers. I keep that equilibrium steady. This is my curse. This is my gift.

    Together, my truck and I hold the line for everyone's sake! We are... Truck and Trucker, in a World of Magic!
     
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  26. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part Nine
    OverMaster

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    After a few days of travel, they had been taken to a large city in the mountains, and from there, into a huge tower. Shuwen had escorted them all the way into a spacious basement, and there a titanic man, completely bald and monstrously fat, greeted them, thick arms folded behind his back.

    "I am the Empress' Third Chief of Torturers," he said. "She has trusted upon me to torture you for information. Now undress, dogs, we are on a schedule."

    Hinako snapped her fingers. "Perseus, Musashi-san, Sasaki-san, if you please."

    All three of them then jumped on the man.

    Once they were done, the guards peeked in, rushed the Third Chief of Torturers to the doctors, and took them all the way two stories above. There, Li Shuwen sat by the door of another chamber, aloofly reading a book, while the foreigners were greeted by a tiny man, hunchbacked over in glee and rubbing hands full of spots together. There were belts loaded with large knives all over his person.

    "Tee hee hee! Welcome!" this misshapen little creature squeaked. "I'm the Empress' Second Chief of Torturers! I shall subject you to ignominious humiliations that shall break your feeble minds! Now get on your knees and-"

    Hinako snapped her fingers. "Perseus, Musashi-san, Sasaki-san, if you please."

    All three of them then jumped on the man.

    Once they were done, the guards peeked in, rushed the Third Chief of Torturers to the doctors, and took them all the way two stories above. This time Li Shuwen sighed, playing with a paddle and ball while waiting, as Rin's party was met by an ambiguous person of extremely lanky flame, robes secured and tied from toe to nose, and somehow speaking through a mouth stitched upon their collar. Their sleeves were so long and wide they hid their hands completely.

    "I am the Empress' First Chief of Torturers," this individual said. "I am the Mouth of Torments, the Curator of Terrors. I have so many weapons concealed in me that you will never subdue me. You shall break. You shall beg for release. And then I shall look down at the lot of you and say-"

    Hinako snapped her fingers. "Perseus, Musashi-san, Sasaki-san, if you please."

    All three of them then jumped on the man. Or woman. Or whatever they were.

    It took them marginally longer this time, but ultimately Li Shuwen still had to take them to the top floor of the tower. There, they were guided into a royal room where, on a gigantic throne decorated with gold ornaments and peacock feathers, sat a diminutive woman with a flat chest and skinny body, wide forehead and angular red eyes, long purplish hair and a bored expression. Her purple robes had no straps at the shoulders, and bared her long, slim legs. She regarded the visitors with annoyed detachment and tapped her fingers on her cheek.

    "All kneel before the First True Empress, Wu Zetian, Heavenly Consort, Sacred Sovereign of China, Scourge of All Enemies to the Homeland," Li Shuwen stoically said, noticeably failing to kneel or bow himself.

    "You forgot 'Ever Loving Beautiful Mother of the Chinese and Goddess of Torture' again," she told him in her little girl voice.

    "You know I'm not going to say that."

    She sighed. "There you go, undermining me before peasants again. Now I'll have to kill them." Next she addressed the terrified Rin and the fairly sanguine others. "You don't know the first thing about official procedures, do you? You are supposed to be tortured properly by the Third Chief, and then if he grants you clearance you go to the Second Chief. Next the Second Chief tortures you, and if you pass the test and fill all the forms he'll direct you to the First Chief, and once he's done with you, then you get to see me. You can't just beat them all up and skip the torture, that's not how bureaucray works!"

    She slammed the small folded fan in her right hand on a side of the throne and shook her head, saying "This is why societies collapse, people! Honestly!"

    "We are sorry, but we are in a race against time, and speaking with you immediately was the sole option," Hinako said, bowing deeply yet no as extremely as the Empress would have liked. "I have been away from these lands far too long, and now I return to a China that has changed much. As for my slaves, well, they have never been here in the first place."

    "Figures. This is why you only should ever buy Chinese," the Empress irritably said. "What am I, a newspaper? Couldn't you just have asked any peasant off the street for the information you search? That's it, you're going into the tank of acid. What do you want to know?"

    "For starters," Hinako said, "we were told you are the Empress, yet we also heard of a second Emperor, which-"

    "Second...? How long have you been away, we've been going at it for years now" Wu Zetian told her. "Yes, yes, Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor- I don't know why you're talking about the second, he's been dead for decades- is still now fortified at Beijing like the unworthy rat he is. I have claimed these lands from him, and from hence I launch my campaign on him, on the behalf of my late husband..."

    "Gaozong of Tang!" Rin gulped.

    Zetian narrowed her eyes and smiled maliciously at her. "Oh, so you do know Chinese! Yes, yes, that is of common knowledge. It has been in the schoolbooks for years, of the war between us..."

    "I thought," Rin weakly said, "by this point the First Emperor would have died long ago? Because of mercury ingestion?"

    Wu stared disdainously at Hinako. "Why have you taught half-truths to your servants? What is the purpose?" Then she told Rin, as if addressing a quite slow child, "No, as much as I would like that, his experiments with quicksilver and other such substances have augmented his lifespan considerably, far past the point where he should have abandoned the throne. A second, then a third, rose in defiance, and he cut them down, but I shall avenge them yet. I will," she promised, slamming a dainty foot down and hissing furiously, "torture and squash him like the bug he is!"

    Hinako was understanding now. "You took his research. You have prolongated your life as well."

    Now Zetian, fittingly mercurial, gave a sly smile and patted herself sensuously on the meager hips. "Naturally! I was more deserving of that knowledge, and thus preserved myself at the peak of my life. So I have been able to match him, move by move, over those long decades..."

    "Or rather," Hinako said, "centuries."

    Wu scowled at her. "It is not wise for a lady to object to another's stated age. Although I'm starting to suspect yours is much more advanced than mine."

    "You are perceptive," Hinako smiled while Rin gave her a perplexed look. "Let us make a deal. We will help you against Qin's forces as long as you do a favor, and only one, for us. Let us have Xiang Yu."

    Zetian raised an eyebrow. "That wild beast? One of Qin's Generals? What grudge do you hold against him?"

    Hinako smiled kindly, pulling out dual Chinese blades from her person and then willing flames to sheathe them, making Rin jump back and the Empress, Shuwen, Perseus and Kojiro tense. Musashi only gave a bored yawn and muttered "I knew it!"

    "You don't need to concern yourself about my intentions for Xiang Yu, O Empress," Hinako said. "By the time I find him, he shall not disturb you anymore. However, I do want him and I'm not leaving your lands, or the Emperor's, without him. That much is out of the discussion."
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
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  27. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Omake
    OverMaster

    OverMaster L

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    Omake!

    "Sir Mordred," Illya called over. "Could you come over here a moment, please?"

    Mordred walked into the room. "Yes, what is it?"

    Illya quickly placed herself behind Medusa. "You can look now!"

    "Wait, what?!" Mordred gasped. "I-- Ahhhh!" she said as Medusa opened her eyes, staring directly at her...

    ... and nothing happened.

    Medusa turned back at Illya, pointed at her glasses, and smiled. "They worked! Thank you very much!"

    "My pleasure," Illya nodded magnanimously.

    "... I'm the most expendable person in the house, am I not?" Mordred realized.
     
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  28. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Omake Two
    OverMaster

    OverMaster L

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    Omake! Part Two!

    "Shirou!" the regular Artoria commanded, entering his room. "In the absence of Rin, you are to help me with my Japanese homework!"

    "Okay, okay, bring it here, and let's see how are you doing... Hmm, I take it Sakura is helping the others?"

    "Just Galahad, Mordred, Gareth and Agravain," she informed, handing him her notebook. "Bedivere has no need for the help, and Gawain and Lancelot are not to be trusted with young single maidens, so I paid my other self to handle their case."

    Shirou blinked. "Wait, how did you pay her? What could you have that she could possibly want?"

    "Actually, she said teaching Lancelot would be payment unto itself. I'm not sure, I imagine she must have missed him. I know I would."

    A few rooms away in the Emiya residence, Alter was rolling Lancelot's notebook up and whacking him across the head with it. "... you DOLT! Cannot you still handle the pronouns correctly, confound you?!"

    "Why, why so much animosity against me, Sire?" Lancelot winced at the corrupted king. "What did I ever do to you?"

    "This is just the King's strict but fair discipline at work!" she said, hitting him again, although in truth he was starting to enjoy this by now. "You have a lot of nerve, Du Lac, suspecting petty personal motives from your lord and master...!"

    Gawain, meekly, folded his legs together at the show of dominance and buried his face deeply into his own open notebook.
     
  29. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part Ten
    OverMaster

    OverMaster L

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    Wu Zetian began laughing girlishly.

    And Hinako frowned. "You don't believe our abilities yet? We have just fought our way to you. Do you need for more displays of our power? Bring your next challenger forth, then."

    "No, no, it's not that!" the Empress laughed, slapping herself on a knee. "It's just that, well, you should have come earlier! A few days ago, one of my allies, Prince Dan, defrosted an assassin and sent them the pretender's way. They should be arriving to that pompous fool's capital as we speak."

    "Do you think this person will succeed?" Hinako questioned. "Is it a single man operation?"

    "Oh, they'll probably fail," Zetian admitted. "We have tried sending many assassins after him in the past, and they all have failed. Yet it's always worth a try."

    Rin pointed back at Shuwen. "Why not sending him?"

    "He's too much of a valuable asset to gamble in such a way," the Empress told her, which had to be further testamente to Shuwen's skill if she was willing to say that about him in his presence. "Besides," she said in a less flattering way, "it would be using a blunt instrument for a precission task. Shuwen is best suited to open combat along my armies, especially against large masses of enemies. I don't think he'd be my first choice for an infiltration job."

    "I do have the skills of an assassin," Hinako argued. "Send me the Emperor's way, and I will deliver his head to you, just as long as you allow me taking Xiang Yu as my captive."

    "You amuse me, little fool," Wu smirked. "Very well, you may go. Should you triumph, all the better for me. Should you fail, I lose nothing from my own forces. Your slave will stay with me, however, as security for your loyalty."

    It took Rin a moment of stupor to notice she was now pointing at her and not any of the others. "Eeeehhh?!" she gasped then. "Why me?!"

    "You're the only one of your numbers who speak Chinese, I can't have productive long nocturnal conversations with them, can I?" Zetian smirked at her, predatorily. "Besides, should I ever tire of you, it's always more pleasant to hear screams of agony in a language one can understand."

    "C-C-Cut the joke, please, I'm not going to do anything to you!"

    "Your terms are accepted, O Empress," Hinako lowered her head respectfully.

    "The hell they are, why do you speak for me like this?!" Rin cried out.

    "Because she's your master and owner, don't you know your place?" Wu asked, grabbing a stick and bopping Rin on the head with it. "Wammo!"

    "HEY!" Rin yelled, rubbing the fresh bump on her head. "Why'd you do that?! If I was disrespectful to her, she should've been the one to punish me!"

    "I didn't do that to punish you, I just was testing how well you take to pain," Wu hummed, taking notes on a small red book. "It doesn't take a lot, does it? Well, I'll keep it in mind. Just in case should my hand be forced, you know. Only then! Let us say..." she glanced over at Hinako, "Three weeks, that is reasonable enough, isn't it? If I don't hear of your success in three weeks, she is all mine from then on?"

    "I see no reason to object to those terms, Your Majesty," Hinako declared.

    Rin took both hands to her own head. "You're the worst, I'm never time traveling with you again!"

    Kojiro looked at Musashi. "Did you understand any of that?"

    "I understood Rin-chan's screwed, that much is clear," Musashi answered.

    "I don't even understand YOU, but yes, I still can agree, that poor girl is pretty much done for," Perseus said in his ever present Greek.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
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  30. Threadmarks: Fate: Time and Punishment, Chapter Six, Part Eleven
    OverMaster

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    "That was kind of a dick move," Musashi said as they made their way across the Chinese prairies, under the morning sun. "Do you think she'll respect and deliver Rin-chan back, even if we do as she says?"

    "We had no option, what else would you have done? Massacre everyone in the palace and run away?" Hinako asked back, eyes always fixed on the road ahead.

    "I'm not a bloodthirsty man-slayer," Musashi grumbled. "I don't like killing without a good reason. I'm not convinced we should be beheading a wise old man on the behalf of a torturing little shrew either."

    "Believe me, the First Emperor was no saint either," Hinako said. "I'm just upset she wouldn't even give us horses. Perseus could be in Beijing already with his sandals, but what good is that for him, if he doesn't know the language?"

    "I don't know how to ride a horse, either way," Kojiro confessed.

    "You don't? What a bumpkin!" Musashi said.

    They nonetheless covered a lot of ground that day, striding faster and more resolutely than mere normal mortals could, and hiking rides with merchant carts when necessary. They stopped by two villages on their way, and Hinako tried to recruit guides, but these were small time peasants who rarely had strayed far, and none was willing to accompany them.

    The sun was setting down when they ran into a woman standing by a cliff, eyes closed and hands together in prayer, whispering softly and facing the West. She wore white robes, perhaps a tad on the revealing side, and the large, wide brimmed hat of a pilgrim. She had stuck a long staff by her side on the ground, and she stood with great poise and dignity, long black hair trailing in the breezed behind her.

    "A monk," Hinako said.

    "This country produces rather strange monks," Kojiro observed.

    "I think I can see her undergarments from this angle," Musashi said, placing a hand above her brow and leaning ahead. "She really should tie that robe better."

    "That is a prostitute, isn't she?" Perseus asked. "What is she doing so far from the whorehouse?"

    Hinako sighed and approached the female monk. "Excuse us, please, enlightened one, but I believe you head the same direction as us. We could use your guidance for our travels. Are you on route towards the capital?"

    The busty, perky looking monk opened her eyes and blinked at her in surprise. "Ah... Ah! Good afternoon, yes, as a matter of fact, that will be a stop along my way! You look weary, I will gladly assist you if you wish me to." She bowed. "My name is Xuanzang Sanzang, humble priest in the service of the Buddha!"

    Musashi did a spittake at this Chinese name that she did recognize. "Genjo Sanzo?!"

    Hinako blinked, then put a hand on her own face and muttered in Japanese. "Too may anachronisms, this isn't making any sense at all...!"

    The beautiful monk tilted her head aside. "Eh? I beg your pardon, please?"

    "I don't think we should be stopping by to waste our time hiring prostitutes," Perseus lectured, despite being a son of Zeus. There's one in every famly after all. "Don't we have someone to assassinate on a schedule?"
     
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